Air pollution isn’t just car exhaust or factory smoke. Dust mites, mold spores, pollen, and pet dander in the air inside your home can cause problems if your family has allergies or asthma. Using HEPA filters can trap these pollutants and may help bring allergy relief.
Allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States -- the poor souls who sniffle, sneeze, and get all clogged up when face to face with the allergen (or allergens) that set them off.
For many, allergies are seasonal and mild, requiring nothing more than getting extra tissue or taking a decongestant occasionally. For others, the allergy is to a known food, and as long as they avoid the food, no problem.
But for legions of others adults, allergies are so severe it interferes with their...
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter is a type of mechanical air filter; it works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke.
Selecting and Using an Air Filter
You can find HEPA filters in most air purifiers. These are small, portable units that may work for a single room. If you are considering buying a HEPA filter, find out how much that the filter can clean. Be sure you buy one that is big enough for the room where you plan to use it.
The best room for a unit is the one where you spend most of your time -- usually your bedroom. You can find HEPA filters in most home improvement stores or through allergy supply dealers.
Some vacuum cleaners have HEPA filters that trap more dust from their exhaust. HEPA-equipped vacuums throw less dirt and fewer microscopic dust mites back into the room as you vacuum. Some people say allergy symptoms improve after using these vacuums.
How Much Can HEPA Filters Help?
Using a HEPA filter in your home can remove most airborne particles that might make allergies worse. But the particles suspended in air are not the only ones in your home. There are far more in your rugs, bedding, and drapes, and resting on countertops and tabletops. So it's important to keep these areas clean. It's also important, when possible, to get rid of the source of allergens and irritants. For example, the only effective way to keep tobacco smoke out of your home is to not smoke.
These filters can be part of a plan to remove irritating particles from your home. Other parts of that strategy should be to:
Replace carpets with wood, tile, or vinyl flooring.
Open windows in your home when possible -- except when pollen counts are high.
Keep pets outdoors if you are allergic to pet dander.
Change bedding frequently and wash sheets in hot water.
Replace draperies and curtains with wooden or metal blinds.