As the CDC announce the staggering increase in Asthma and Allergy levels in the USA; what is the role of Certification of Air Cleaners Devices
Allergen avoidance in the home is now accepted as part of preventative medicine for sufferers of asthma and allergic diseases, complementing the overall concept of home health.
Medical specialists recommend that individuals suffering from asthma and upper airway disease reduce exposure to allergens and irritants in indoor air to the greatest degree possible.
No single product or approach can on its own reduce air pollution to levels that benefit those with disease of the airways. A Home Allergen Reduction Program includes all measures necessary to effectively address the presence of allergen, regardless of where it is found.
This goal can be achieved by a multifaceted approach which involves:
- Source control
- Removal of accumulated allergens and irritants.
Effective air cleaners have an impact on removal of allergen that remains airborne. However, it should be noted that allergen associated with larger particles becomes airborne only for short periods following room disturbance, thereafter rapidly falling to the ground and re-entering the surface reservoir. In this circumstance, the cumulative impact of an effective air cleaner on such allergens will be different.
Therefore a Certification system and consumer logo-program of the Air Cleaner performance criteria and impact on removal of allergen that remains airborne is of value. It is with this in mind that Allergy Standards Ltd (www.allergystandards.com) the International Certification and Standards Body has developed the asthma and & allergy friendlyâÂ¢ Certification program which it co-administers in the United States, Canada and the UK.
Furthermore it must be established that apparent reductions in airborne allergen levels represent actual removal and not simply surface allergen redistribution. This is best assessed by measurement of allergen levels in both the air and surface reservoir following any defined periods of use of an air cleaner.
Hence it makes sense that assessment and subsequent Certification for consumer labelling of an air cleaner should require that the air cleaner be evaluated in terms of indoor allergen levels that are representative of those found in both air and surface sampling of typical homes.
Factors relevant to this assessment:
1. Contaminants Present
- Nature of each contaminant
- Quantity of each contaminant
- Distribution of each contaminant
2. Standardized Chamber and Conditions
- Air flow
- Surfaces and reservoirs
- Temperature and relative humidity.
There are a number of international rating systems which allows comparison between various machines and how they will function in rooms of varying dimensions. While these undoubtedly have a role to play, product claims based upon complex technical information may be difficult to extrapolate to overall everyday living and hence have reduced impact on the average consumer.
By relating impact to terminology used by doctors, nurses and patients, asthma & allergy friendlyâÂ¢ Certification bridges this gap in understanding.
The cornerstone of Certification is the availability of accurate reproducible immunoassays for the major inhalant allergens. These assays are highly sensitive and when augmented, measure in the picogram range. This testing is performed by Â airmid healthgroup limitedÂ (AHG), a leading testing and claim verification laboratory. AHG's laboratory and R&D facilities are vertically integrated and incorporate working withÂ allergens,Â bioaerosols andÂ particulates relevant to indoor air quality; they specialise in real life testing using state of the art environmental test chambers. Data generation involves both air and surface multi site sampling techniques with known precision and allows comparison with the established techniques of particle counting/sizing.
The asthma & allergy friendlyâÂ¢ Certification mark is awarded to those air cleaning products that can be scientifically demonstrated to contribute to the goals of allergen reduction. Certification is provided only in terms of the exact benefit established. This benefit is then clearly specified in all documentation relating to Certification, in particular that which is presented to the consumer on the Certification Mark, enabling informed purchase choice.
It is accepted that the standard chamber conditions cannot reproduce all of the relevant conditions that may impact on airborne and surface allergen removal in a particular home. However, it is likely that an air cleaner, which functions well under the test outlined in this protocol, will also function well in the average home.