Do air conditioners improve indoor air quality?

The below article talks about air conditioners and the effect it has on indoor air quality, the factors that affect indoor air quality, improving indoor air quality with the help of an air conditioner, along some frequently asked questions about indoor air quality and air conditioners. 

Do air conditioners improve indoor air quality?

Not all air conditioners have the ability to filter out airborne contaminants. While AC filters can remove preliminary dust or large airborne debris, there is no guarantee that any improvement in indoor air quality could be sustained for longer periods of time. Newer air conditioning models have been fitted with adequate and efficient filters that are capable of filtering out airborne pollutants, and whose activities are oriented towards improving indoor air quality. However, a lot of these filters are conditional in their activities and require constant maintenance to ensure that it continues working in optimal efficiency to remove indoor pollutants. 

How does an Air Conditioner work?

Air conditioning has been used globally to relieve rooms of extreme temperatures that make lives everywhere more comfortable and optimal. Air conditioners essentially would remove the warm air from an enclosed space, and releases it outdoors; while cool air is simultaneously pumped back into the room, thus reducing the room’s temperature. The basic functioning of an air conditioning unit would be to remove heat and humidity from indoors, while a refrigerant or a coolant is used to cool air and pump it into the enclosed space. 

Air-borne pollutants and air quality 

An allergy attack can commence regardless of whether the individual spends time at home or outside in heavily congested areas. Many people tend to stay indoors to avoid the allergens that are highly prevalent outdoors, it is however rarely that people take the measure to protect themselves from poor indoor air quality. With the presence of dust, mold spores, pollens, dust mites, pet dander, etc. indoor air quality can be a challenge to address, especially in highly industrialized countries. 

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts pollutants in 5 categories, namely:

  • Ground-Level Ozone
  • Particulate Matter 
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

These are the most common pollutants that have significant impacts on allergies. However, they cannot be solely blamed for allergies as pollen counts, mold spores, pet dander, vehicular emissions, wildfires, etc. can also cause inflammation and irritation to lung tissue that could trigger allergies. 

Studies have found that quite often indoor air quality can be ten times higher than outdoor air quality. Indoor air quality has been an increasingly researched topic amongst health researchers, especially when it comes to identifying factors that could have lasting impacts on human health. Indoor air pollutants can originate from several sources such as mold spores, pet dander, dust, debris, VOCs, mildew, mites, etc. There have been several devices that are introduced, to work towards improving indoor air quality. Several factors affect indoor air quality including the burning of certain substances, usage of toxic chemicals, from air fresheners, emissions from refrigerants or coolants, emissions from chemicals such as thinning agents, paints, lacquers, etc. 

Benefits of air conditioning 

  • Air conditioners usually have unique filters that help them remove dangerous allergens such as pollen, dust, mold spores, etc. from circulating in the air, thus drastically reducing the incidence of allergies in different individuals.
  • Air conditioners are capable of removing excess moisture from your room, therefore reducing the occurrence of mold or mildew. 
  • It stabilizes indoor room temperatures, keeping heat strokes, and other heat-related illnesses far away. 
  • They help reduce dehydration by keeping your body cool, which keeps you from sweating and losing water from your body. 
  • Optimally set air conditioner units could drastically improve ones’ sleep and keep one comfortable, reducing sleep disturbances. 
  • Cleaner air from well-maintained air conditioners has been found to reduce asthma attacks in different individuals.
  • There are fewer insects, bugs, fleas, etc. in your room as the air conditioner filter theoretically would be capable of filtering out these elements. 
  • The closed windows and doors required for optimal functioning of an air conditioner unit, ensure to keep poor outdoor air quality and noise pollution at bay. 

Improving indoor air quality using air conditioning

An air conditioning system is not a permanent solution for improved indoor air quality levels. Air conditioners most often could lead to poorer indoor air quality than improving it. This is true in cases where older air conditioning units may be used, or air conditioners are not properly maintained and checked, when filters are not periodically cleaned, etc. Air conditioners circulate indoor air, and when their filters do not work efficiently, the same stale air contaminated by airborne pollutants keeps cycling into the room, thus keeping unhealthy indoor air quality. 

There are several ways to identify if your air conditioner is contributing to unhealthy indoor air quality, some of them easily identifiable indicators include the following:

  • Noticing your physical symptoms such as increased incidences of stuffy or runny nose, headaches, nausea, increased asthma attacks, dizziness, fatigue, itchy nose or skin, etc.
  • Higher pollutant readings on any device you may have in your room such as an air purifier, humidifier, dehumidifier, etc. 

Ensuring optimal efficiency of air conditioners

  • Schedule regular maintenance check-ups to ensure optimal functioning of air conditioners.
  • Clean or lightly vacuum the AC filters periodically to remove the dust and debris from the filters. 
  • Replace AC filters as suggested, periodically, to ensure that it does not impede the AC’s other activities which could possibly improve indoor air quality levels. 
  • Ensure windows and doors are closed to avoid an inflow of contaminants into the room. 
  • Replace your old air conditioning units with ones that have improved functions and filter technology. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Does air conditioning improve indoor air quality?

Do Coway Air Purifiers improve indoor air quality?

Coway air purifiers are widely known across the globe for improving indoor air quality levels. The company has been recognized to provide for different needs in terms of clean air, water, etc. that are in line with the latest digital and technological developments. Coway recognizes that indoor air quality plays an important role in the overall health of humans and their environment, and the company works hard to ensure that any device introduced is the best in the market with high rates of filtration capabilities, is constantly researching and redesigning their technologies to meet new needs and ensuring that they are sustainable in their approach. The company reported that approximately 6,000 tons of plastic have been recycled since 2018 (Dresden D., 2021). 

Can HEPA filters such as those in air conditioners or air purifiers, remove disease-causing viruses such as the COVID-19 virus? 

Various studies conducted under different settings such as hospitals with patients or controlled circumstances show that HEPA filters, HVAC filters, etc. are capable of removing airborne disease-causing viruses such as the coronavirus. A study conducted found that the coronavirus is sized at 0.125 microns in diameter (Heffernan T., 2020), which falls squarely into the filtering capacity of HEPA filters, as proven by NASA through their recent studies that showed that HEPA filters are capable of removing approximately 100% of particulates of 0.01 microns, and this proves effectively that it has startling efficiency to remove airborne viruses that can cause COVID-19 as well as absorb any aerosolized droplets from the carriers of the virus. 

References 

Dresden D. (2021, September 30). Coway Air Purifier Review. Medical News Today (MNT). Reviewed by Sullivan D. Viewed on 01-29-2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/coway-air-purifier#_noHeaderPrefixedContent  

Heffernan T. (2020, November 18). Can HEPA Air Purifiers capture Coronavirus? Wirecutter. NY Times. Viewed on 01-29-2022. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/can-hepa-air-purifiers-capture-coronavirus/ 

Qualls M. (2021, October 31). Does air conditioning help indoor air quality? Does running the A/C impact indoor air quality? Find out if air conditioning hurts or benefits IAQ. IAQ Works Viewed on 01-29-2022. https://iaq.works/indoor-air/does-air-conditioning-help-indoor-air-quality/ 

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