8 out of 10 allergy sufferers have year-round allergy symptoms due to indoor allergens. Perennial allergy symptoms can be controlled by improving indoor air quality with air purifiers. There are so many options for air purification these days: furnace filters, HEPA air cleaners, ionic air cleaners, humidifiers that wash the air, ozone generators, and whole-house air purification systems. . . This may leave the allergy consumer wondering: How did we make such advances in air purification technology?
You may think air purification is a new craze, but the reality is much older than most people think. Although ancient, various types of air purification have been used for over 200 years. Since the early 1800s, scientists have been working on ways to make our air cleaner. At the start of the industrial revolution in the United States, John and Charles Dean developed a mask for firefighters in 1823, allowing firefighters to enter burning buildings without exposure to the dangerous fumes of smoke.
As the Industrial Revolution really took hold in America, burning coal became a staple in growing cities. Using coal allowed engineers to generate electricity and fuel, and to power trains and heat homes. However, as coal became a central resource for growing city life, the air was polluted with clouds of smoke and black mist.
It wasn’t until 1854 that John Stenhouse developed a mask worn by divers and coal miners to protect against polluted air. Stenhouse’s mask was based on a charcoal-based filter design, similar to some carbon filters used in air purifiers today. These masks have filtered out a lot of air pollution and made tremendous advances in air purification. Using charcoal in air filters allowed Stenhouse to filter more harmful, harmful gases from the air than previous filtering masks. In 1871, John Tyndall introduced a respirator to help firefighters breathe, upgrading the original firefighter masks created by the Deans. The combination of respirator and filtering system became the early predecessors of today’s respirators.
HEPA Air Filters
Shhh! You may not know this, but HEPA filters were originally classified as top secret, developed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to protect soldiers from radioactive particles on the battlefield. During World War II, scientists involved in the Manhattan Project used HEPA masks to protect against pollutants from the atomic bomb.
While these early HEPA masks probably didn’t protect people from atomic radiation, research revealed the HEPA filter that protected against chlorine gas, mustard gas, and flamethrowers. It wasn’t until the 1960s that standardization of specifications and the term HEPA or “High Efficiency Particulate Air” was officially coined by the Department of Energy (DOE).
As defined by the DOE, HEPA filters remove at least 99.97% of 0.3 micron dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and airborne particles at 85 liters per minute. From the beginning, HEPA filters were used to filter out highly hazardous aerosols, toxic carcinogens, radioactive particles and biohazardous pollutants.
Meanwhile, in Germany worldwide, brothers Klaus and Manfred Hammes bought a patent for a simple air filtration system. By using a fiberglass pad attached with small magnets to the air outlet of a residential oil furnace, the Hammes brothers were able to filter soot from the air. In 1963, the Hammes brothers’ simple but effective filter became the first domestic air cleaner throughout Germany.
Coincidentally, that same year, the U.S. Congress passed the Clean Air Act of 1963 to set standards for air pollution reduction through fuel emission standards. Although it wasn’t Congress’ first attempt to reduce air pollution, the Clean Air Act of 1963 warned scientists and consumers of the need to protect our lungs from pollutants such as perfumes, building materials, chemicals, pesticides, and allergens.
Air Purifier Craze
HEPA air filters, no longer classified as top secret, became popular in the 1970s and 1980s as more consumers became concerned about air pollution. With the introduction of dozens of products containing HEPA filters, exciting new ways to control allergies and asthma have finally become widely available for home use. Initially, the first HEPA air purifiers were bulky, difficult to operate, and were traditionally used only in hospital and pharmaceutical environments and among computer chip manufacturers. Then businesses began to notice indoor air quality concerns among residential consumers.
In response to the growing demand for cleaner air, the Hammes brothers’ newly formed company, Incen AG, moved to Switzerland and began developing and manufacturing residential air cleaners in 1971. After many years of international success of Incen AG, Klaus’ son Frank Hammes Hammes began distributing cabin air filters as additional accessories for Mercedes-Benz cars in 1990. In 1991, Frank Hammes founded IQAir North America, which supports the continued growth and success of the air cleaning industry. In 2002, IQAir air cleaners became the first air cleaners to use HEPA-class certified HEPA filters, capturing up to 100 times more particles than conventional HEPA filters. Class H13 certified HEPA filters were only used in hospital cleanrooms until then.
In 1991, through the amazing technology of True Medical HEPA and Activated Carbon, Richard Taylor created a filter that addresses environmental particulate contamination, chemical toxicity and odor. It was then that he and his wife Joyce founded Austin Air Systems Limited. Buffalo, NY-based Austin Air has introduced a pre-filter that provides a HEPA filter life unlike anything else in the industry. Austin Air’s 360-degree intake system draws air throughout the air cleaner, maximizing efficiency and delivering cleaner air faster. Austin Air, which has the world’s largest air cleaner manufacturing facility, continues to manufacture all parts for fantastic air cleaners.
Founded in 1992, AllerAir has quickly become a trusted name in air purification. After a family member of AllerAir founder Sam Teitelbaum developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), Teitelbaum and his partner Wayne Martin decided to develop their own air cleaners. Using a combination of true HEPA filters and a MAC-B (mass activated carbon bed) filters containing pound carbon, AllerAir has created an air purifier that safely and effectively removes chemicals, gases and odors from the air. With offices in the United States, Italy and Canada, AllerAir air cleaners are used by Mayo Clinic, IBM, Gucci, Prada and the US Army. With over 100 models to choose from, AllerAir air cleaners are efficient, practical and cost-effective.
Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden and Chicago, the Blueair air purifier company is dedicated to creating a healthier environment both indoors and out. Founded in Sweden in 1996, Blueair quickly gained a reputation for high performance, technological innovation and quality design. The revolutionary combination of mechanical and electrostatic filtration enables Blueair purifiers to capture 99.97% of irritating particles, gases and odors. With more than five different models, these powerful yet near-silent air cleaners provide visually pleasing form and highly effective function.
Now a world leader in the manufacture of specialty products and chemicals and a subsidiary of Kaz, Honeywell began as a hot water heater company in 1906 and has a long tradition of providing safe, reliable and high quality products. Acquired by Kaz in July 2002, Honeywell’s indoor air quality products consistently meet and exceed the American Lung Association’s House of Health guidelines with meaningful innovation based on consumer research and insights. Using permanent, lifetime HEPA filters, Honeywell air purifiers remove 99.97% of all common household particles such as dust, pollen, tobacco, smoke and cat hair. Honeywell glass fiber HEPA material helps remove airborne particles without the use of expensive ultraviolet light bulbs, chemicals or other processes. Honeywell offers a range of Home Comfort and Indoor Air Quality Solutions with a range of products to suit your needs.
Although no longer a top-secret government project, air purifiers still hold the secret to cleaner air and healthier environments for many asthma and allergy sufferers. Today, HEPA air cleaners and filters are used in a variety of critical filtration applications in the nuclear, electronics, aerospace, pharmaceutical and medical fields, as well as in homes around the world. Compare air purifiers and learn how to choose the best air purifier for your needs. An air purifier could be the secret to better breathing for you and your family.