Safe Rooms and Over Pressurization
The concept of a “Safe Room” or “Safe Haven” in the home is one well known to Allergy, Asthma and Multiple Chemical Sufferers. A safe room is one, which the goal is to rid the air of any biological contaminants such as mold, cat allergens and pollen, viruses, bacteria and environmental pollution and gases. Traditionally, this room has been the bedroom, being the room where most people spend more hours in their home than anywhere else. In fact, the same principles can be applied to any room of the house, which the homeowner wishes to designate as being toxin free.
We have discussed some of these issues before, in terms of general hygiene, in articles Living with Cats, The Dust Free Bedroom, and when the anthrax scare was at its height 18 months ago we published a responsible article by Frank Hammes, IQAir Filters and Airborne Biological Warfare – Do Air Filters Help? And for those looking for relief from odors and gaseous contaminants read our FAQ on Filtration of Gaseous Pollutants and Odors.
The problem that all safe rooms face is how to bring sufficient uncontaminated fresh air into a room so that people will have sufficient oxygen. While the idea of hermetically sealing a room sounds initially attractive, you could also be creating a tomb where the air will run out and you will suffocate.
The answer lies in positively pressurizing a room, a concept that takes some explaining. In order, to provide occupants with a completely toxin-free room with pure air, air needs to be drawn into the room from the outside (exterior or nearby room) through exceptionally high grade HEPA and carbon filters, so only pure air reaches the interior of the room. This method is much more effective than having a standalone HEPA air purifier filter the air already in a room.
This is where the efficiency of the filters becomes critical. No longer can you be content to let contaminated air circulate through the filters several times before being trapped in HEPA and carbon filters. Most air purifiers we have found are lacking, with efficiency ratings in our own testing, ranging from 35% to 85%. Only with the hyper HEPA filters of something like IQAir, can you be reassured that almost nothing gets past its filtration system on the first pass.
If you use the optional positive pressure kit for your IQAir filter, you can bring the fresh air in safely from the outside through a duct fitted into your window or wall (exterior or inside wall). If you are bringing in new air from the outside, then you have a surplus of air for the volume of air that can fit into that room. What happens next? The surplus air escapes out of the room through all the nooks and crannies, which are quite normal in non air-tight houses.
Positive pressurization can be used in the following circumstances:
1. Ridding a room of airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold and cat allergens. Allergens can be inside based or even outside sourced.
2. Expelling any virus or bacteria from the room and forcing them out through cracks in the house to the outside air.
3. Intaking clean smog-free, fume-free, allergen-free, virus- and bacteria-free air, into a room when the outside air is polluted for some reason.
4. Providing a home based “clean room” for someone who has multiple chemical sensitivities or needs a toxic-free hospice environment.
5. Clearing a virus-laden environment such as nursery schools where many children have colds, or a pet shelter where there are airborne viruses, which are spreading within the shelter.
6. Getting clean allergen-free fresh air into the home during pollen or mold season.
Retrofitting your existing IQAir air cleaner for positive pressurization or buying a complete kit from scratch is expensive, so the cost and potential benefits of creating a safe room need to be carefully considered. Most people most of the time can tolerate some toxicity; the time to use over pressurization is when you are dealing with people with compromised immune systems such as the young, elderly or sick or when the level of toxic pollution for any reason has reached such a level as to be considered dangerous to the population at large.
Read more on how to positively pressurize a room…