Wednesday, February 25, 2009

HELP—My Apartment Has Mold!

A call we receive a lot is from apartment renters who have problems with mold. They’ve told their superintendent that a mold problem exists, they’ve tried to remediate the mold themselves and they’ve even tried to break their lease. But often, apartment dwellers are stuck between superintendents who just don’t care and the fear that their health is at stake.

Many apartment dwellers complain of increased sinus infections, upper respiratory infections—even bronchitis, pneumonia and far worse. But still their pleas go unanswered. Their illnesses checked off as a figment of their imagination, or not the responsibility of the apartment owner. And the mold remains. And the situation worsens.

Can Air Purifiers REALLY Help?
Air purifiers are certainly a viable, affordable option for renters with mold problems, especially since many of them are looking for a temporary solution until they can have the problem resolved permanently, or find a new place to live. Either of which is advisable.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—air purifiers cannot remove mold.

What air purifiers can do is filter the dangerous mold spores and mycotoxins that are produced as a byproduct of mold, and which can also make you sick. Very sick.

A Common Mistake
A common mistake that people make when purchasing an air purifier for mold is stopping at a HEPA-only air purifier. Indeed, HEPA filters play an integral role in the filtering of mold particles and spores, but as we will explore in the Recommendations below, they fall short of providing a complete solution.

Beware of Ozone Air Purifiers
Now before we get to the solution, I want to add (just in case some of you don’t make it to the end of this blog) a word about air purifiers that emit ozone to clean indoor air of pollutants, such as mold. According to the EPA, “whether in its pure form or mixed with other chemicals, ozone can be harmful to health.” Moreover, “if used at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone applied to indoor air does not effectively remove viruses, bacteria, mold, or other biological pollutants.”

In a nutshell, ozone air purifiers can be dangerous, AND even if they weren’t, they don’t work anyway.

AllerAir recommends air purifiers that combine a HEPA filtration system, a deep bed of activated carbon and UV light technology.

No question, HEPA is a key ingredient in the war against mold. The HEPA filter serves to trap 99.97% of the mold particles. However, something to keep in mind when dealing with mold. When choosing a HEPA filter, make sure that the lid (that holds the web of fibers together) is not made of cardboard, as this is an ideal food source for mold. A better choice would be a lid made of metal or polyurethane.

2. A Deep Bed of Activated Carbon
The activated carbon works to adsorb that musty smell that is associated with mold and adsorbs its harmful mycotoxin gases. The deeper the carbon filter, the better the adsorption capacity. An acceptable filter depth might be around 2”, but a better filter depth would measure closer to 3” or 3.5”.

Your carbon filter is important because it dictates the dwell time that a pollutant remains in the air purifier. The deeper the filter, the longer the dwell time. The longer the dwell time, the better the adsorption of the air pollutant.

3. UV Light
The UV light’s role is to sterilize any mold spores that are not trapped by the HEPA filter. This may seem irrelevant considering the HEPA traps 99.97% of the spores, but when it comes to mold, even the .03% that escape the HEPA filter can be enough to propagate a new mold problem. Plus, UV light technology also sterilizes bacteria and viruses, so if you’ve invested in a good air purification system, it just makes good sense to cover all your bases.

Why Invest in an Air Purifier if I’m Going to Eventually Leave My Mold-infested Apartment Anyway?
If today you rent a mold-infested apartment, then you need protection. The great thing about air purifiers, really, is that they serve many purposes. This means, when you move into your next home, you can use this same air purifier for general improved indoor air quality, or to remove Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s) that are generated through new home furnishings and renovations. In fact, you can use your air purifier for a myriad of indoor air quality solutions—mold just happens to be one of the many great applications.

Ideal AllerAir Air Purifiers for Mold

AirMedic+ with UV Technology

5000 Exec with UV Technology

6000 Exec with UV Technology

For more information on air purification solutions for mold, please visit, or call one of AllerAir’s Indoor Air Quality Experts at 888.852.8247. You can also send an email to us at

Got industrial-sized indoor air quality problems? We’ve got industrial-sized solutions!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Report: Third-hand Smoke Dangerous for Children

It’s a fairly new buzzword, and it’s making waves in and outside the indoor air quality (IAQ) industry. It’s called ‘third-hand smoke’. The term refers to the lingering toxic particles that remain on clothing, hair, furniture and various other surfaces long after a cigarette has been stubbed out. New research shows that these particles can be especially dangerous to babies and children, who can inhale these lingering poisons.

Most smokers and non-smokers alike have heard of the dangers of first- and second-hand smoke. The indoor air quality industry answers a large demand from both smokers (who don’t want to bother non-smokers) and non-smokers (who are bothered by smokers).

Certainly AllerAir doesn’t put itself in the position of condemning or condoning smoking, whether indoors or outdoors, but we will be the first to express the negative effects smoking has on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).

According to Health Canada, Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is a combination of exhaled smoke and the smoke produced by an idling cigarette, cigar or pipe. It consists of solid particles, liquids and gases.

Over 4,000 different chemical compounds have been identified in ETS, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, arsenic, dioxins and furans. More than 50 of these substances are known carcinogens. Others are known or suspected mutagens, capable of changing the genetic structure of cells.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently declared ETS to be a class-A-carcinogen, since many of its components are also found in industrial effluents where they are treated as hazardous waste.

According to the EPA, children's exposure to secondhand smoke is responsible for:

1. Increases in the number of asthma attacks and severity of symptoms in 200,000 to 1,000,000 children with asthma
2. Between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (for children under 18 months of age)
3. Respiratory tract infections resulting in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year

We feel the best way to avoid the dangers associated with first, second and third-hand smoke is to stop smoking altogether. For those who do smoke, or who are surrounded by smokers, AllerAir has a full line of air purifiers designed specifically to tackle the dangerous properties of smoke.

Available in our 5000 and 6000 series, our smokers’ units are equipped with:
· Deep (“DS”) or extra-deep (“DX S”) carbon beds to adsorb the dangerous particles, chemicals and odors associated with cigarettes, cigars and other alternative smoking products
· Unique tar-trapping filters to collect the sticky tar droplets associated with cigarettes, which clog conventional air cleaners
· Between 24 lbs. and 36 lbs. pounds of activated carbon

For more information on air purification systems for smoking applications, contact 888.852.8247 to speak to one of AllerAir's Indoor Air Quality Experts, or visit and click on Tobacco Smoke.