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A Primer on Air

By Daniel T. Moore, Ph.D.
Copyrighted 2016

We definitely can not make it long without air. Quality air adds to the quality of our life. Today there are many issues involving the air that we breath. Houses are so well insulated now that toxins from carpet, fire retardants, cleaning chemicals, etc. tend to stay in our home much longer than ever. These toxins are just waiting for our lungs to filter them into our body. The increase insulation may also allow moisture to remain in the house creating mold spores that some people are sensitive too. Some people have allergies to things inside and outside their homes. In many cities, air pollution is a significant problem. Most of us drive vehicles that add toxins into the air. Our bodies are wonderful filters and if we do not have an air filter of some kind in our home, then chances are that our lungs are the filters and toxins and irritants will enter our blood stream. We can greatly reduce the toxins that enter our bodies by filtering the air that we breath.

Air filters are pretty straight forward. Air passes through chambers and/or filters and then some of the impurities are trapped or killed. Some filters work to purify the air in a room while other filters are designed to filter air through out the house. Almost all modern homes come with air filters as part of their central air cooling and heating system. These are filters for the whole house. However not all air filters are the same. Some are better than others in cleaning the air. In addition filters need to be changed or cleaned often for maximum benefit.

Whole House Filters: Most homes have a whole home filters. They do a good job of keeping much of the dust from getting into the central air and heating unit. There are adjustments to these systems that can be made to improve the air quality of the home.

One simple strategy to improve the air quality in your home is to buy a good filter. Filters are rated by size of particles that they allow to pass through. A large number means a better filter. Also the larger the number the more impurities it can trap. Some people save money by purchasing a washable filter. Washable filters can be removed and sprayed with a garden house to be cleaned. See our chart below of filters for your central air unit. You are able to purchase these filters by clicking on the link to Amazon.com. Once there you can choose from a variety of filters until you find the one that meets your needs the best. Becareful to pick filters that fit your air ducts. Below is a chart which serves as a starting point for better air in your home through the filter of your central air unit.

Filter Rating


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2800 MRP

Filtrete Healthy Living Elite Allergen Reduction Filter by 3M. Can trap particles that carry bacteria and viruses.

2200 MRP

Filtrete Healthy Living Elite Allergen Reduction Filter by 3M. Can trap particles that carry bacteria and viruses.

1900 MRP

Filtrete Healthy Living Ultimate Allergen Reduction Filter by 3M. Can trap particles PM 2.5 in size.

1500 MRP

Filtrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen Reduction Filter by 3M. Can trap particles incl. smoke, cough/sneeze debris.

1200 MRP

Filtrete Allergen Defense Odor Reduction Filter by 3M. Has carbon filter to reduce smells and trap small particles.

1000 MRP

Filtrete Micro Allergen Defense Filter by 3M. Can trap particles like smoke, pollen, dust.

600 MRP

Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust Filter by 3M. Can trap pollen, dust and lent.

300 MRP

Filtrete Clean Living Basic Dust Filter by 3M. Can trap pollen, dust, lent particles. Comes in package of 6.


Washable (reusable) foam filter. The aluminum case that it is in will not rust over time.


Electrostatic Washable Permanent A/C Furnace Air Filter


MERV 8, Lifetime HVAC and Furnace Air Filter, Washable Electrostatic, High Dust Holding Capacity

Most homes only filters the air when the air conditioning or the heating unit comes on. Some days the air does not get filtered because there is no need to heat or cool the air. Another adjustment that can be made to your whole home filter system is adding a two or more speed motor to your blower. A lower speed can run when the heating or cooling unit is not operating and a high speed can be used to blow the warm or cool air throughout the house when the unit is running. This allows a constant circulation of air that will yield much cleaner air in your home. Most people will not be able to make this adjustment on their own. They will usually need a professional to install the variable speed motor and put in the controls. Because the motor runs the blower, the cost in electricity is not that significant. Most people who install a two speed motor also install UV lights.

UV lights: To kill bacteria, viruses and mold spores that are in the air, UV lights are often used. These lights are an economical way to sanitize the air that you breath. There is some danger to UV lights in that you do not want to look at them because the light they emit can damage your eyes and most UV lights produce Ozone. UV lights can be installed in home central and air conditioning units, killing all viruses, bacteria and mold caught in its deadly rays. Many large commercial buildings use UV lights to deliver high quality air without mold to the building. Most people will need to hire a heating and air conditioning specialist to install the UV lights in their system. UV lights generally are on continually and the bulbs need to be replaced about every two years.

Putting in a good air filter, two speed motor for your blower and UV lights in your central air system will significantly improve the air that you and your family breath. People with allergies will notice the difference every time they come to your house. Most will be able to breath easier and many times, their sinuses will clear while in your home. Individuals who have bronchitis on a yearly basis usually have it because of the irritant particles such as mold spores in the air. These systems should be able to stop the yearly bronchitis attacks.

Area Size Air Filters If you can not afford to install whole home air purification systems, you may be able to afford area size air filter. Fortunately there are many to choose from. We have made a chart of the ones we recommend in order of features. The ideal area size air filter will have filters that are not too expensive or that can be easily cleaned, trap small particles and have a UV light that does not produce Ozone. Some people may augment their whole home system with area air filters. They can put them in an area not well serviced by their central air conditioner or in areas that may need even a higher quality of air such as in a bedroom or a computer room. Below is another chart with links to Amazon.com so you can find products to improve the air quality in your home.

Type of Filter


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22 inch mobile

GermGuardian AC4825, 3-in-1 Air Cleaning System with True HEPA, UV-C and Odor Reduction, .3 microns ability

12x12 mobile

JB Innovative Products Green Air Pro 2 Plates Apline Air Purifier, Ozone Generator, UV, .2 microns ability

safe UV light

GermGuardian GG1000 Pluggable UV-C Air Sanitizer and Odor Reducer, very affordable, produces no ozone

UV light for furnace

Honeywell UV Air Purifier (24V) with AirBRITE Odor Absorbtion

UV light

UV Light for A/C or Furnace

4 speed motor

Rheem 51-104671-01 - Furnace Blower Motor 1/2 HP 1075 RPM 4-Speed

Another service that can significantly improve air quality is to clean out your air ducts of your home and seal up any leaks in your system. Over time, dust, dirt, dead bugs and other particles settle in air ducts. The air ducts should be cleaned periodically for high quality air and general cleanliness. For most of us, this is not a do it yourself task, because of the time, effort and equipment needed. If you are not cleaning the ducts yourself, make sure you get a reputable company to do this for you because there are scam artists who claim to be cleaning out your air ducts, but in reality they are just spreading the dust, dirt, dead bugs, etc. around even though they may have fancy looking equipment. So be careful if you have someone do this service for you.

In conclusion, breathing is a part of life that is an absolute necessity. Improving the quality of the air that we breath increases the quality of our health and the quality of our life. Fortunately with today’s technology there are many things we can do to improve the air that we breath. For those who suffer from allergies, bronchitis, asthma or other respiratory problems, the methods mentioned above may relieve considerable suffering.

In most cases, improving physical health also improves mental and emotional functioning. For this reason we developed this portion of our website. If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us by E-mail.

The top photograph was by engin akyurt on Unsplash. We are grateful. Your Family Clinic has no sponsors. We receive funds through qualified purchases from our affiliate programs such as the links listed above. We thank you in advance for your purchases.