Ultravation News and Information Center

Category: indoor air quality

How can I make my indoor air better?

If you have an HVAC system, it’s actually much easier than you might think to make your indoor air better. By following a few simple steps, you can dramatically improve your indoor air quality with little muss or fuss.

1. Check for leaky connections in your ductwork. If you have a loose juncture, gaps between the register and the wall, or even holes in the ductwork, those leaks can draw in dust from one part of your home, carry it through the HVAC system and dump it out the other end. Calling your trusted HVAC contractor to come in and fix the leaks is an important first step toward good indoor air quality.

2. Have a quality air filtration system installed. Now that your leaky ductwork has been taken care of, capturing the dust, dirt, pet dander, and other large particle contamination that circulates with the air through your HVAC system is the next priority. Using a high quality filter (MERV 11 or MERV13) is the best way to collect as much contamination as possible.

3. Install a germicidal Ultraviolet light in your air handler. This will stop mold from growing on the cooling coil and drain pan. All the air that circulates through the air handler must pass through this section of the system. That means all the air that is sent back into your living or working areas has passed through the mold and other bio-growth that is growing on the coil, which will take with it millions of mold spores. The UV light kills all that bacteria and mold, keeping the coil and the air clean. (Mold is the fifth most common allergen indoors!) Keep in mind, too, that the cleaner the coil the more energy efficient the HVAC system is — you’ll save on your energy bill!

4. If you have trouble with odors in your home, consider installing an air purifier that goes beyond filtration. Pairing UV light with Titanium Dioxide creates a process known as photocatalytic oxidation (PCO). The PCO process breaks up organics, eliminating stubborn odors from the air while doing away with airborne pathogens and allergens at the same time. PCO air purification is especially helpful if you are an avid home renovator because it oxidizes all airborne organics, including fumes from home projects like paint, new carpet smell, adhesives – all kinds of “off-gasing” materials.

 

How to Ease Asthma Triggers

May is Asthma Awareness Month! And with Asthma on the rise, we would like to emphasize the importance of good indoor air quality and the positive difference it can make for asthma sufferers. Airborne asthma “triggers” that are found indoors such as pollen, dust, pet dander and large mold spores can be difficult to avoid due to the large amount of time we spend indoors. Installing a high quality air cleaner in an HVAC system is a great way to help cut down on these triggers, because it constantly reduces the concentration of particulates as the it circulates the air.

As air passes through an unfiltered HVAC system, it will distribute airborne particulate contamination from one room to another. A quality media air cleaner will stop this process. In fact, an Ultravation Media Air Cleaner with MERV 13 filter media will collect 90% of particulates 3 to 10 microns in size, which includes the majority of dust and virtually all pollen.

We realize that even a good quality air filter won’t eliminate all the causes of indoor asthma triggers, but by continually reducing airborne irritants, concentrations are kept at a lower level and symptoms should be reduced as a result. Some additional ways you can reduce asthma and allergy triggers are making sure carpets are vacuumed regularly, that bedding is washed weekly, and of course, don’t allow smoking in the house! You’ll find that quality air filtration coupled with a good cleaning regime can really help ease asthma triggers.

 

Learn more about asthma at the Asthma and Allergies Foundation of America website.

The Benefits of Optimizing Indoor Air Quality in the Workplace

 

Provide a healthful indoor environment while reducing energy costs

In general, the better people physically feel, the happier and more motivated they will be. Walking into a workplace that smells old and musty or one that triggers allergies is not going to create the most positive attitude among employees. However, the implementation of a strategic Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) plan utilizing a combination of air filtration, ultraviolet (UV) light and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) can greatly improve employee outlook and sense of well being, without breaking the bank. In fact the return on investment can be amazingly short.

 

Air Filtration

Many allergy triggers – like dust, mold and pollen – can be dramatically reduced when using quality air filters. Integrated into HVAC, air filters capture dust, pollen and large mold spores that enter the air handler, preventing them from returning to the workspace. This can reduce the severity of allergy symptoms employees may experience.

Quality filtration also lowers HVAC maintenance and energy costs. As air travels through ductwork, it can deposit the dust, mold and pollen particles, which creates buildup and requires professional cleaning. Filters dramatically reduce the potential build up of dirt and debris, which results in fewer maintenance visits. Filters save energy simply because a clean HVAC system runs more efficiently.

 

Ultraviolet Light Treatment

When employees come to work sick they introduce germs into the office airflow. Some germs will be distributed office-wide via the HVAC system, contributing to the spread of office illness. The application of ultraviolet (UV) light in the air handler can help reduce this distribution. When passed through UV light a microbe’s DNA is disrupted, rendering it harmless. UV disinfects the circulating air, reducing airborne illness-causing bacteria and viruses.

HVAC systems are also prone to mold growth on interior surfaces due to the naturally wet surfaces inside the equipment. If the system is generating allergens, then the IAQ problem is exacerbated. The installation of UV lights in the air handler not only prevents mold growth and therefore allergen generation, it keeps unwanted biogrowth from clogging the cooling coil. UV keeps contamination under control, but also can virtually eliminate expensive, environmentally un-friendly coil cleanings.

 

Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) and Odor Reduction

Office air can be polluted with other undesirable substances. Among the most common are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are gases that are released by certain solids or liquids at room temperature. The odors resulting from this process can be irritating and some are detrimental to your health. New carpeting, fresh paint, or even the smell of hot copier toner and everyday solvents can cause respiratory distress for some people. There are hundreds of VOC odors that can potential exist in an office environment.

Photocatalytic oxidation is a relatively new air purification process that specifically addresses VOCs and serves as an airstream disinfectant as well. The system includes a titanium dioxide coated grid energized by UV light. It creates a very effective oxidation process that breaks down VOC molecules into CO2 and water vapor. It is even powerful enough to break down cigarette smoke.

 

Everybody Benefits

It is easy to see how creating an indoor air quality strategy could be a win-win situation for both a business and the people who work there.  It goes without saying that happy, well taken care of and respected employees tend to do a better job. So think about your office. Would you benefit from better IAQ?

 

To learn more about Ultravation professional IAQ products, visit our website: www.ultravation.com

 

To find an Authorized Ultravation Contractor, please use our Find a Contractor tool: https://www.ultravation.com/find-authorized-contractor/

Allergies and You: Combat Winter Allergens

For our readers in the north, even though the pollen has died down and the leaves have fallen off the trees, it doesn’t mean that allergy sufferers are off the hook. There are a variety of indoor winter allergens that can still plague us.

One of the most important things you can do to reduce your winter allergy symptoms is to change your air filter regularly. A dirty air filter will not only recirculate particulate that has already been collected, but it can also create excessive air resistance in the HVAC sustem, which wastes energy. If you are still using the typical 1″ furnace filter, consider a quality 5″ pleated filter for much better results and fewer filter changes. You should also have your ductwork cleaned annually, preferably in the fall. If you don’t have central air conditioning, dust and dirt can infiltrate a homes’ ductwork over the summer. When you turn on your heating for the first time, all that particulate gets kicked up and circulated, triggering allergic reactions.

Other allergen concerns are a little less obvious. Since November and December each have major holidays and most people have decorations that they like to set up. But those decorations – having been stored for a year – can collect dust and even grow mold. Even Christmas trees can cause allergic reactions for some people (more on this topic to come). Family and friends are also a big part of our winter celebrations and – sorry to say – they can be a source of allergens too. Pet dander and other irritants hitching a ride on clothing and shoes when people visit can be a source for allergic reactions.

Quality indoor air contributes to the comfort of a home in all seasons!  And the more allergen-free the better. To learn more about Ultravation’s indoor air quality products, please visit our website.

Happy Holidays!

Allergies and You: Fall Allergies

Fall allergies

Now that it’s autumn, there is a whole new list of things that will make you sneeze and cough, with ragweed at the top of the list. WebMD had a great article describing what these allergens are and why they make your nose run. But don’t despair! Ultravation ProgressiveMedia whole house air cleaners for HVAC systems can help ease your worst allergy symptoms. Collect the spores (10 – 30 microns), pollen (10-1000 microns) and dust mites (.1 – 300 microns) discussed in the article as they find their way into your indoor air. Visit Ultravation.com to determine what filter is right for you!

What are VOCs?

Cleaning products create VOCsVolatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are gases that are given off of certain solids or liquids at room temperature. VOCs can be produced by either man-made items or by naturally occurring chemical compounds. In fact, many scents or odors you smell are volatile organic compounds and some of them can be potentially harmful to your health.

VOCs can be found in a variety of places, but mostly they are found indoors. Household cleaners, carpets, dry cleaning, adhesives, paint and even new furniture give off, or “off-gas”, VOCs. That’s why the concentrations of VOCs are so much higher inside. The gases get released into the air, and without proper ventilation there is no way for them to escape.

Paint and varnish create VOCsSome people experience throat and eye irritation when exposed to elevated amounts of VOCs, while others don’t seem to be affected as much. A small exposure to these VOCs won’t cause any serious damage to your health, but long-term exposure can. That’s why it’s so important to know what volatile organic compounds are and how to prevent them from building up.

Ultravation’s UVPhotoMAX™ and Photronic™ Advanced Oxidation Air Purifiers are designed to destroy VOCs by employing an advanced photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) process that uses an exclusive titanium dioxide formula. They install in your HVAC system and are effective for the whole house.

Break down of VOCs

Learn more about the UVPhotoMAX™ air purifier here – the web page includes a video on the PCO process.

Learn more about Photronic™ comprehensive air cleaning system here.

See a list of hundreds of VOCs here

To learn more about volatile organic compounds please visit these websites:

WebMD® Slideshow of Indoor Air Pollutants

People all over are taking notice of indoor air quality. Recently, WebMD® published a slideshow of indoor air pollutants and how they can affect people, especially children. The slides reveal a number of common household items and projects that can easily contaminate the air. Take a look at the WebMD® Surprising Sources of Indoor Air Pollution slideshow and see what we mean.

There are ways to safely remove VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from the air in a home. Ultravation’s UVPhotoMAX breaks down the VOCs using photocatalytic oxidation powered by ultraviolet light, reducing or eliminating odors and the harmful compounds in the air. It is important to keep the VOCs in check, because some of them can be very detrimental to the health of you and your family.

 

Learn more about UVPhotoMAX (includes video!)

 

Indoor Odors: Why does my kid’s room still smell like stinky socks after I’ve done the laundry?

Stinky SocksIf you’re struggling to control foul odors coming from your kid’s room, then this article is for you. While frequent laundering of gym socks is of course an excellent practice, there is a good reason why it might not solve the whole odor problem. Odors can “leak” off stinky socks, a gym bag, or a moldy sandwich left under the bed for three weeks, and hang in the air. Without proper ventilation, those smells can  penetrate the drywall, wood carpets and other materials in your home if left untreated long enough. So how do you stop these smelly odors? The answer is a very interesting technology called photocatalytic oxidation (PCO).

When titanium dioxide (TiO2) is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, highly reactive molecules called superoxide ions are formed. These ions are very useful. They react beautifully with odor molecules (that are generally VOCs or volatile organic compounds), oxidizing them by “stealing” their electrons. This reaction causes the odor molecule to break apart and reform into simpler molecules —mostly CO2 and a little water vapor. The creation of the superoxide ions and the reaction with odor molecules is known as photocatalytic oxidation. Long story short, PCO freshens the air by breaking up indoor air pollution as it passes through the HVAC filtration. It stops odors without adding fragrances and other odor masking solutions that so-called “air fresheners” use. And there are no harmful byproducts released into the air since the PCO process results in harmless elements already found in the air.

Ultravation’s UVPhotoMAX™ – a whole house UVC germicidal and odor neutralizing air purifier – uses the power of PCO to reduce odors. Install one in your HVAC system and let your nose be the judge. Gradually, your whole home – even the kids rooms – should smell fresher and cleaner. AND, it does more than just odor reduction. It also uses the UV light to kill airborne bacteria and viruses – any type of airborne organic. So, it’s actually a two-for-one system: odor reducer and germ fighter.

 

To learn more about Ultravation’s products that reduce odors in the air, please visit:

https://www.ultravation.com/odor-control-germicidal-uv-air-treatment/

Ultravation T3 Lamp Technology

There are several ultraviolet (UV) lamp designs that are used in germicidal disinfection. High output UV lamps provide more intensity but at a cost in energy consumption. Ultravation’s T3 (Thermal Transfer Technology) UV lamp utilizes a quartz glass sleeve that encases the UV lamp, protecting it from the passing cold air in an HVAC system. This creates more UV output— up to 50% more germ and mold killing power – without using any additional energy, simply because it keeps the lamp at a more favorable operating temperature.

 

Building a Comprehensive Indoor Air Quality System

Over the past few weeks, we have discussed the importance of scheduled replacements of UV lamps and air filters to keep indoor air quality optimized. But did you know that combining ultraviolet light disinfection and air filtration creates a comprehensive IAQ system that adds up to more than the sum of its parts? By working together, these units can eliminate a much wider range of indoor air contaminants then they ever could separately. Let’s take a deeper look:

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