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electrostatic furnace filter An air purifier functions by drawing dirty, unpurified air through an inlet grill.  Some units have a washable pre-filter that traps larger airborne particles.  Air then passes through the carbon filter, which helps reduce odors and captures larger particles.  The air then passes through a HEPA filter made of tightly woven fibers.  Some air purifiers even have electronic ionizers that further assist in particle removal.  The fan then redistributes the filtered air throughout the room.

An air purifier filters dust, smoke, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and other airborne particulate as small as 0.3 microns.

What room sizes can an air purifier clean?

The performance of all air purifiers is rated by AHAM.  Look for the AHAM seal on the packaging for room size information.  Most air cleaners also have appropriate room size reference data on the front of the packaging.  All room size recommendations are based on AHAM Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) test results.

Who is AHAM?

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) is an organization that certifies the testing results of home appliances such as room air cleaners, dehumidifiers, and room air conditioners.  They use outside labs to test products and rate a variety of appliances.  For more information, please see the AHAM website.

What is CADR?

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is an acronym and measurement developed by AHAM.  CADR is the amount of clean air, measured in cubic feet per minute, that an air cleaner delivers to a room.  Each air cleaner model is tested for its ability to remove smoke, dust, and pollen over a period of time.  This measurement is usually found on the back of the air cleaner packaging in the AHAM seal.  The AHAM seal will list three CADR numbers – one for tobacco smoke, one for pollen, and one for dust.  The higher the numbers, the faster the unit filters the air.

The "2/3" guideline is to use a unit with a CADR at least 2/3 your room's area.  For example, a 10' x 12' room (120 square feet) would require an air cleaner with a CADR of at least 80.  A CADR of above 350 is considered excellent, while a CADR of below 100 is considered poor.  For better air cleaning at a quieter speed, it's a good idea to choose a model certified for a larger area than you need.

Air purifiers without an AHAM seal have generally not been certified for CADR.  For a more detailed description of CADR, please visit the www.cadr.org website.

What is Ionization?

Ionization is the process of converting neutral atoms or molecules into ions.  An ionizer is a collection of vibrating needles that release negative ions into the air.  These negative ions come into contact with small airborne particles and join with positively charged particles to form a larger particle.  This larger particle is then drawn into the air purifier's air stream, where it can be captured in the filter.  Ionizers are usually combined with other technologies, including different types of air filters.

What is a Carbon Filter?

A carbon filter captures larger particles and helps to reduce unpleasant odors.  Carbon filters should be replaced every 3 to 6 months, depending on usage patterns.

What is Washable Foam?

Washable foam helps capture larger particles, and it can be easily cleaned.  The foam filter in your air cleaner should be periodically removed and washed in warm, soapy water, then rinsed and drip-dried thoroughly before replacing it.
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Air Purifiers - Air Purifier Definitions