People, especially those with lung issues, are often interested in improving their indoor air quality or IAQ.  According to the EPA, one should take a three prong approach to improving IAQ.

The first prong is air cleaning.  Air cleaners alone will not keep your IAQ high, but when used with the other methods, one should be able to keep their air fairly clean.

When buying an air cleaner, think about what you want from it. There are three possible uses—limiting particulate matter, limiting germs or limiting smells.

If a homeowner is trying to limit particulate matter, they may already have an air cleaner in their home.  Most furnace and AC systems have a filter system.  Consistently changing the filter or cleaning the charged plates – if the filter system is electronic – should have a significant effect on limiting particles in the air.  Consult a licensed HVAC technician to verify if you have such a system at home and to instruct on proper usage.

Homeowners that do not have such a system in their home should consider buying a filter-based air cleaning system, and it should be properly sized for the home.

If you’re interested in limiting germs, consider a UV based system.  Ultraviolet light is known to be germicidal, and is commonly used to kill germs in both air and water.  Fortunately, there are many units on the market that claim to do both of these.

Getting rid of smells is a different issue.  Doing both filtration and killing germs can help remove the source of some smells.  However, if smells are a big issue then the best method of removal is carbon filtering.  Free standing carbon filter air cleaners can be purchased, and carbon filters for HVAC systems are also available.

TIP: Make sure that the air cleaner you choose is NOT an ozone air cleaner.

Two additional prongs for improving IAQ that should be used with an air cleaning systems:

Source control involves removing sources that can affect IAQ.  Look for mold-like staining (especially in basements), household chemicals that are no longer used should be thrown out, and remember to test for radon when buying a home.  A good dusting and sweeping routine will always be helpful to IAQ.

Ventilation is easy enough.  The air outside is usually far cleaner then the air inside.  When the temperature is not too hot or cold open the doors and windows and enjoy the fresh air.  However, be aware during alerts for ozone action days or high pollen.

A three prong approach should help keep IAQ good for those interested in keeping lungs healthy, or helping those whose lungs don’t work as well as they should due to various medical issues.


Information for this article based from

And the DEP at