Air Purifier & Air Cleaner Glossary  View Models >>

Air Purifier & Air Cleaner Terminology


Activated Carbon
Activated Carbon is a specially treated carbon that has been exposed to heat around 800-900 degrees Celsius. The great thing about activated carbon is that it has a large internal surface area and can trap a lot of impurities inside it.

The term Airborne is used to describe any particles or substances that float in the air. Airborne particles are the reason that air filters are used to clean air in a given area.

Air Changes per Hour
Air Changes per Hour is a term used to describe the amount of times per hour that an air purifier can clean and re-circulate all of the air in a room.

An allergen is a normal substance that causes an acute defensive reaction in a person's immune system. Common allergens are pet dander, smoke, and pollen, although the list of possible allergens is long and varied. When a person has a reaction to an allergen that person is said to be allergic to it.

Animal Dander
Tiny scales of animal skin.

Bacteria are microscopic, single-celled organisms that have a cell wall and a specific shape depending on the type of bacteria. Bacteria have no easily identifiable nucleus. There are many types of bacteria, and although many are harmful to humans there are some that actually help.

The term “Biohazard” is used to describe any time of biological waste. Often, this biological waste is pathogenic in nature or contaminated in some way.

Black Wall
The Black Wall is an occurrence common with ionic air purifiers. The “Black Wall Effect” happens when the air around an ionic type air purifier becomes negatively charged. This negatively charged area causes airborne particles to stick to surrounding surfaces (often the wall behind the device) and cause a build up of dirt and bacteria. Black Wall can be a breeding ground for microscopic organisms.

Coronal Discharge
A type of air purifier that uses ozone to clean the air, a Coronal Discharge device is sometimes referred to as a “thunderstorm in a box”. The air inside a coronal discharge device is charged with between 5,000 and 10,000 volts of electricity. The massive shock causes unstable bonds to form between single atoms of oxygen (O) and Oxygen molecules (O 2 ). Ozone then attacks any airborne particles in the surrounding area (O 3 ).

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)
Clean Air Delivery Rate measure of an air purifier's ability to reduce smoke, pollen & dust particles in the 0.1 to 11 micron size range.
For maximum effectiveness, shoot for a CADR of 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 tobacco smoke CADR of at least 80. If your room size is smaller, the unit will simply clean the air more often or faster.

Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)
Cubic Feet per Minute determines the amount of air that passes through a stationary point in one minute. One CFM equals about 28.31 liters per minute. A higher CFM means the air passes through the purification unit at a higher rate.

Electrostatic Precipitators
Electrostatic Precipitators blow air into a cell where it is given a positive electrical charge. The air is then blown through special stainless steel plates which carry a negative charge and attract dust and allergen. This type of air purifier emits ozone as by-product.

Acronym for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal agency responsible for the regulation of pesticides, toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes, and toxic pollutants in water and air.

A Filter is any porous device that allows the passage of air but traps airborne particles, thus cleaning the air.

High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA)
Type of filter used in vacuum cleaners and Any true HEPA filter guarantees that the filter will capture airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in size, 99.97% of the time. (Particles smaller than 0.3 microns are still trapped by HEPA filters but effectiveness is reduced to less than 99.97%).

Histamine is a substance your body injects into your bloodstream to help you stay alert. However, it is often triggered by allergens. It causes fluid to be released into the skin (which causes swelling and hives), and when released into the sinuses can cause a runny nose and watery eyes.

Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor Air Pollution is the term used to describe the amount of contaminants in the air inside a building. Indoor air pollution can often be worse than outside air pollution due to poor ventilation. Unfortunately, it is often ignored. About 80 per cent of all indoor air pollution is human skin. The remaining 20 percent is usually made up of dust mites, pet dander, smoke, pollen, sweat, and chemical compounds from various substances.

Indoor Air Quality
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is a term used to describe how polluted the air inside a confined space is. The IAQ of any building is measured according to guidelines set by the government and is used as a measuring stick for the efficiency of air purification and filtration systems.

Ionizers use high voltage electricity to create negative electrons. These electrons run up the length of a pointed spike, or needle, where they stream into the air and attract oxygen molecules. At this point, they become negative ions and are attracted to airborne particles. These molecules build up around the particles until they become too heavy to remain air borne and float to the ground. This process is known as agglomeration.

Negative Ion
Despite the name, these are a positive thing. Negative ions are found in the most peaceful and energizing settings, such as near waterfalls and the ocean and in forests. Unfortunately modern homes and offices seal out negative ions and most appliances and modern building materials produce an excess of positive ions which contribute to decreased energy, fatigue and depression. Positive ions have been proven to relieve hay-fever and asthma symptoms, seasonal depression, fatigue and headaches. Negative ions work to clean the air by attaching to positively charged particles and weighing them down, until they drop out of the air.

Natural Ventilation
Occurs when outdoor air enters through open windows and doors and through cracks and leaks in the home.

Negative Pressure
Condition that exists when less air is supplied to a space than is exhausted from the space, so the air pressure within that space is less than that in surrounding areas.

Noise Level: This number is measured in decibels (dB). A higher number indicates a higher level of noise. This number is different from the noise reduction rating, which measures the amount of noise that is eliminated by particular hearing protectors. Below are examples of the noise level ratings for common appliances:

150 dB = Rock Concerts at Peak
140 dB = Firearms, Air-Raid Siren, Jet Engine
130 dB = Jackhammer
120 dB = Jet Plane Take-off, Amplified Music at 4-6 ft., Car Stereo, Band Practice

Extremely loud:
110 dB = Machinery, Model Airplanes
100 dB = Snowmobile, Chain saw, Pneumatic Drill
90 dB = Lawnmower, Shop Tools, Truck Traffic, Subway

Very loud:
80 dB = Alarm Clock, Busy Street
70 dB = Vacuum Cleaner
60 dB = Conversation, Dishwasher

50 dB = Moderate Rainfall
40 dB = Quiet room

30 dB = Whisper, Quiet Library

Ozone is a special type of oxygen molecule caused by bonding a third oxygen atom to an oxygen pair. This is most often accomplished using ultraviolet light. Ozone (O 3 ) is highly unstable and reacts with air borne particles by launching the extra oxygen at anything near it. The oxygen atom reacts with the air borne particle, causing a tiny explosion and the destruction of the particle. Ozone purifiers are highly effective against both dust and microscopic organisms, but can be unhealthy if a person is exposed to large quantities.

The process by which volatile chemicals evaporate and release chemicals into the air. Materials such as paints, stains, varnishes, carpet, insulation, flooring, kitchen cabinets and countertops, plywood, particleboard, and paint strippers can produce significant offgassing in your home or office. The fumes from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) seriously effect the quality of air indoors.

A purifier is a device that cleans the air of viruses and microscopic organisms as well as dust and allergens. Purifiers are especially useful for people who suffer from allergies and wish to live an allergy-free lifestyle.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
These gases are emitted by a wide range of products found around the home; for instance, paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions. Pollution indoors can be up to five times worse than pollution outdoors, due to high levels of VOCs.

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