Your Guide to Airborne Particles

All Air is your source for Fredericksburg HVAC service, helping you save more money and breathe easier than ever before. In this blog, we’ll get straight to the breathing easier part, breaking down the different kinds of particles that can affect indoor air quality, and how these particles interact with your HVAC system.

Living Organisms

Pollen, Mold, Bacteria, and Viruses

For those with allergies, it’s the living things that cause you the most pain—that includes allergens like pollen, mold, and airborne bacteria. Exposure and inhalation of these organisms causes your body to omit a stress response (histamine production), leaving you with a runny nose, scratchy throat, watery eyes, sinus pressure, and all the other lovely symptoms that are usually associated with allergies.

The large majority of living organisms (pollen, mold, and bacteria) fit into the 50u to 1u range—with 10u as the approximate cutoff for organisms being visible to the naked eye. Standard-issue air filters trap particles as small as 15u or 20u, which leaves a lot of a wiggle room for living organisms smaller than 15u to bypass your air filters and stick around in your air supply.

There’s one “small” exception when it comes to living organisms: airborne virus particles are usually smaller than 0.05, which makes them virtually impossible to trap in an air filter, and only visible through a microscope.

Non-Organic Materials & Minerals

Industrial Byproducts and Household Dust

You’ll find pollen, mold, and bacteria just about anywhere—but when it comes to non-organic materials in your air, it completely depends on the state of the world around you. Residents of farming, oil, and coal communities can be exposed to insecticide dust, fiberglass, and oil dust. Talk about putting the “dust” in “industrial.”

For the city folks, there’s a higher likelihood of being exposed to carbon particles (smog, more or less), fly ash (a byproduct of running old furnaces), and cement dust.

But let’s not forget about the usual suspect of poor indoor air quality: household dust. Ranging anywhere from 50u to 0.3u, dust is simply a combination of dead skin cells, animal dander, and good old dirt—and in terms of volume, it gets caught in your air filters more than anything on the planet.

Pretty much everything in this category can be trapped with a 0.3u air filter—except for carbon pollution, which is causing widespread health and climate issues that transcend the world of HVAC.

Eye & Lung Irritants

There’s a special category of airborne particles that usually don’t have the volume to cause indoor air quality problems, but are still problematic for public health. Cigarette and tobacco smoke can cause a bevy of health problems, and their most dangerous particles (like carbon monoxide and ammonia) can be as small as .001u (only visible with an electron microscope).

Why Size Matters

If the airborne particles that are negatively affecting your health are too small to be filtered by your HVAC system, then you’ll need to take extra measures to improve your indoor air quality and eliminate dangerous particles in your home. Talk to your HVAC experts at All Air for solutions to all of your indoor air quality problems—we’re happy to help!

Comments are closed.