SOURCE: Air Quality Sciences, Inc.

July 19, 2006 11:22 ET

AQS Offers Independent Product Testing for Air Cleaner Effectiveness, Safety

ATLANTA, GA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 19, 2006 -- Concerned about poor indoor air quality (IAQ)? No problem. Just install an air cleaner / purifier and everything will be fine, right? Well no, not necessarily. According to a new report from Air Quality Sciences (AQS), no matter the type or size of the building, air cleaning alone won't do the trick. Also, not all air cleaners / purifiers are alike.

"Indoor air contains a mixture of visible and invisible contaminants, some of which can lead to health problems, lower worker productivity and result in building occupant complaints. Creating and maintaining a healthy indoor environment requires three key strategies that work hand-in-hand: source control, ventilation and air cleaning," said Marilyn S. Black, PhD, chairman and chief scientist of AQS.

According to the AQS report, "Clearing the Air on Indoor Air Cleaners / Purifiers," first and foremost, you need to control the sources of indoor pollutants. Experts agree, however, that although source control is the only completely effective way to remove pollutants from indoor environments, getting rid of all contaminants often is not feasible or practical, which is why you also need good ventilation and air cleaning. Using products that emit low levels of indoor pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), is a great start as it strengthens the ability of ventilation and air cleaning to dilute and remove indoor air pollutants, the report said.

Determining what type of air cleaning system or room air cleaner / purifier to use can be a complicated as it depends on what types of indoor air pollutants are to be removed, the size(s) of the indoor space(s), the type of building and what activities are going on in the building. Budgetary (first cost and maintenance) and energy costs and conservation considerations also must be taken into account. Further, when it comes to some types of air cleaners, marketing claims can be very confusing, the report noted.

For instance, some air cleaners are especially designed to remove particulates only, while others also are fitted to remove gases, vapors and odors. Some rely on physical mechanisms to capture contaminants and others electrically charge particles to attract them into filters. The filters themselves come in a variety of styles, sizes and materials, the report said. This past spring, a veritable thunderstorm of controversy erupted in response to a Consumers Report article (May 2006) on another class of air cleaners that produces ozone at high levels for the purpose of air cleaning.

"The idea is ozone reacts with odor-causing VOCs and removes the odor while leaving a fresh, clean smell. Research has shown, however, that ozone as an air cleaner or purifier is not particularly effective and in fact can be hazardous to health. These air cleaners are not to be confused with other electronic air cleaners that produce ozone at very low levels as a byproduct, which are not considered dangerous," Dr. Black said.

An important guide in choosing an air cleaning system or room air cleaner / purifier to is review the results of independent product testing for performance. AQS, for example, offers a comprehensive test method that assess the effectiveness of air cleaners / purifiers in four distinct areas, which are not covered by other test methods:

--  Particle removal efficiency, which measures the percentage of dust
    removed from the air, which differs from other test methods that measure
    how much dust a filter collects
--  Chemical removal efficiency, which measures the percentage of VOCs and
    formaldehyde removed from the air
--  Odor removal efficiency, which measures the reduction in malodor
    perception
--  Ozone emissions, which measures the amount of ozone released during
    operation
    
During this test, a dynamic environmental chamber is contaminated with a known concentration of particles and specific chemicals and malodors. The air cleaner / purifier is turned on and airborne levels of VOCs, dust and ozone are measured before, during and after operation. A human odor panel also evaluates the quality, intensity and characteristic rating on a scale of 1 to 5. The odor analysis follows ASTM guidelines for sensory evaluations and DS-61, "Atlas of Odor Characteristic Profiles."

"Independent testing allows manufacturers to demonstrate their products effectiveness and safety, especially for air cleaners that remove VOCs and odors or that may generate ozone. Independent testing also gives consumers peace of mind that the air cleaning products are operating as intended and are not contributing to indoor air pollution," Dr. Black said.

For more information on this test method, contact AQS at 770.933.0638 and ask for Product Evaluations. The AQS report, "Clearing the Air on Indoor Air Cleaners / Purifiers," is available at no charge under the White Paper section of the Premium Content Page of the AQS - Aerias IAQ Resource Center website at www.aerias.org. A listing of products that are regularly tested to ensure that their chemical and particle emissions meet acceptable IAQ pollutant guidelines and standards may be found in the GREENGUARD Product Guide, which can be accessed at no charge on the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute's (GEI) website -- www.greenguard.org.

Air Quality Sciences, Inc. is a fully integrated indoor air quality (IAQ) company that provides solutions to create healthy indoor environments and avoid potentially dangerous indoor pollution. As the only IAQ firm with internal labs that are both ISO 9001:2000 registered and AIHA EMLAP accredited, AQS sets the standard for effective diagnoses and solutions. AQS also is a test laboratory for both the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute and the Blue Angel Labeling programs, which provide independent, third party certification for low-emitting products used indoors. To learn more about AQS, Blue Angel and GREENGUARD, visit www.aqs.com, www.blauer-engel.de or www.greenguard.org, respectively.

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