Benefits of Clean Air in the Home

Dr. Greg Jeneary talks about the importance of good ventilation, filtration, and humidification for increasing healthy air quality in your home.

Air qualityby Dr. Greg Jeneary

The quality of air that we breathe has always been a concern, but this has been kicked into hyperdrive due to the pandemic. The air we breathe contains many types of pollutants, and these can have an effect on our overall health. Air quality issues are not exclusive to outside air – they are in our homes as well.

With current homes being built with a strong emphasis on efficiency, in a sense they have become tightly sealed boxes. The ability of our homes to “breathe” becomes more challenging. Therefore, it is important for a home to have appropriate ventilation, filtration and humidification of the air.

Investing in air quality pays off 24/7.

One way to filter the air in a home is through pleated air filters that attach to a home’s HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning) unit. These filters receive a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating as given by the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers). The rating corresponds to the filters ability to trap air pollutants and ranges from 1 to 16. The higher the number, the better the filter is at collecting smaller sized particles. ASHRAE currently recommends a minimum filter rating of a MERV 13 for a home residence.  This specific filter will capture at least 85% of particles sized 1 µm to 3 µm.

To take it a step further in terms of filtration, a HEPA filter is defined as a filter that can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and other airborne particles larger than 0.3 µm. The significance of the size of the 0.3 µm is described as the most penetrating particle size (MPPS) or better understood as the smallest particle size that could pass through the filter without being trapped. A HEPA filter, oddly enough, is not MERV rated, but if it was, it would be considered to have a MERV rating of 17-20. So think of a HEPA filter as the ultimate way to trap human aerosolized infectious particles.

Humidifying air is another way to improve indoor air quality. Studies suggest that relative humidity can affect the incidence of respiratory infections and allergies. Experimental studies on airborne-transmitted infectious bacteria and viruses have shown that the survival or infectivity of these organisms is minimized by exposure to relative humidity between 40 and 70%.1 Symptoms of insufficient humidification range from dry itchy eyes, nose, throat, lips, and skin. The moisture added to dry air also helps alleviate common nuisances brought on by winter heating, such as static electricity, peeling wallpaper, and cracks in paint and furniture. However, too high humidity can encourage the growth of biological organisms in the home.2 Keeping the air in your home between 40 and 70% relative humidity can reduce all of these problems.

If retrofitting an existing HVAC unit with filters and humidification is not an option, portable or room sized humidifier and air filter devices can work well. These units can be easily moved from one room to another and can be sized specifically to a homeowner’s needs. Regardless of the type of air filter or humidifier, regular maintenance and changing of the filter and components is required. Since we are all spending more time at home, a small investment in air quality pays off 24/7.

Don’t make your nose do all the work. Get your house air ready with a separate HEPA filtration unit or a portable unit. Start by making sure your HVAC device has a filter with a minimum 13 MERV rating. You and your family will sleep better.

After you read about improving air quality, read this CE about how the anatomy of breathing structures has evolved.

Air qualityDr. Greg Jeneary graduated from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry in 2007. After graduation, he joined his father’s dental practice in Le Mars, Iowa, where the focus has been comprehensive dental care. Dr. Jeneary has completed numerous hours in all aspects of general dentistry but has immersed himself in the areas of Orthodontics, TMJ and Craniofacial Pain and Sleep Related Breathing Disorders and their impact on the mouth and body. He is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Dental Association, American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry, American Laser Study club and the American Orthodontic Society. He lives in Le Mars, Iowa with his wife, Anne, and their two children.


Stay Relevant With Dental Sleep Practice

Join our email list for CE courses and webinars, articles and more..

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top