What is a Micron and How Does it Relate to Air Quality? - Service ChampionsService Champions
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What is a Micron and How Does it Relate to Air Quality?

April 10th, 2013

If you’ve been shopping around for air filters or air purifiers to improve indoor air quality, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Removes particles as small as (insert number here) microns.”

But what does that really mean?

What is a micron and why does it matter in regards to air quality?

Is there really that much benefit in filtering out 1 micron-sized particles as opposed to 5 micron-sized particles? Or is it just overkill?

This blog post will help answer these questions to give you an edge when shopping for air filters or air cleaners.

Micron: a tiny unit of measurement with big implications

Micron is short for micrometer, which is one-millionth of a meter (or .00004 of an inch.)

With that in mind, something needs to be at least 5 microns large to be visible to the human eye. To give you a sense of scale, 98% of all indoor air particles are less than one micron in size.

Will my current air filter capture these small particles?

Actually, the standard air filter in your home’s air conditioning and heating system is designed only to remove particles that are 5 microns in size or larger.

That leaves the majority of indoor air pollution (98%) in your home’s air. This includes the following common indoor air contaminants:

  • Fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Cooking smoke
  • Insecticide dust
  • Dust mite feces
  • Most household dust
  • Small hair and pet dander

Will this actually affect my health?

According the American Lung Association, airborne particles 2.5 microns or less (called fine particles) are considered an inhalation hazard because they are “easily inhaled deeply into the lungs where they can be absorbed into the bloodstream or remain embedded for long periods of time.”

They also found in a recent study that there was a 17% increase in mortality risk in areas with higher concentrations of fine particles.

Finally, small particles pose a huge problem to you or your loved ones who have asthma problems since they can easily trigger asthma attacks and cause wheezing, coughing and respiratory irritation.

What can I do to protect my family?

Let’s sum up:

  • 98% of particles are less than 1 micron in size.
  • Your standard air filter won’t protect you from these particles.
  • These super small particles can be harmful to your health.

Now it makes sense why you need air filters or air cleaners that can capture particles that are smaller than 1 micron, especially if someone in your family has asthma issues.

Want to learn more about how you can improve your home’s air quality? Ask one of our Northern California air quality experts about how we can make your home’s air safer for your family.

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