Ask Nurse Kate: Filtering Out Indoor Air Pollution at Home

Whether you like it or not, your home could very well be filled with indoor air pollution like dust mites, mold spores, allergens and other invisible intruders that can have an effect on your family’s well-being.

So, what’s the best way to increase indoor air quality at home? Clear the air, of course!

By using a whole-home purifier, a room purifier, or a supplemental combination of both wherever your home needs it most, you’ll be able to alleviate your home of these asthma triggers and respiratory irritants.

To drive this home, we asked our resident health expert, Nurse Kate, to answer some key questions that should help you and your family clear the air.

Question One: Aren’t our bodies naturally able to filter air thanks to mucus and nose cilia? What does a purifier do that our bodies don’t do already?

Our bodies are pretty good at filtering out large pathogens and pollutants thanks to the structure of our nose, throat and lungs.  However, we often experience unpleasant symptoms such as cough, congestion and shortness of breath associated with this natural filtration process. At times, our bodies can have difficulty keeping up with all of the air contaminates we are exposed to, which can worsen respiratory irritation, illness and chronic diseases.

The right air purification systems can help support our body’s natural defenses by filtering out more pathogens and pollutants than our bodies can do alone, without all the pesky side effects.

  Question Two: What conditions can stagnant, unfiltered air exacerbate in people with allergies or respiratory conditions?

 Stagnant, unfiltered air can increase any of the symptoms associated with allergies and respiratory illnesses simply because our bodies are exposed to more irritants than if the air space was properly filtered and ventilated. If you find that your indoor air seems stuffy, stale, or stagnant, consider improving your indoor air quality through source control, improved ventilation and air purifiers, as discussed by the EPA.

Question Three: Are children more susceptible to the effects of unfiltered air than adults?

Children’s bodies are still developing, so they are likely to be more sensitive and susceptible to the effects of air contamination, particularly if they are prone to asthma and allergy attacks. The American Academy of Pediatrics took a stance on how indoor air quality can affect children’s respiratory health, going as far as to say reducing exposure to indoor air pollutants can be “as effective as medications.”

 Question Four: When is it most beneficial from a health perspective to use a room purifier versus a whole-home purifier? Why?

The air quality in your home can have a major effect on the health of you and your family. In fact, the EPA has classified indoor air pollution as one of the top environmental risks to public health. Whole home air purification systems are typically regarded as the optimal way to improve indoor air quality. However, there are certain situations where a portable room air purification system might be more beneficial versus a whole home purifier. The following are just a few examples of when a room purifier may be more beneficial from health perspective:

  • Cost: Whole-home air filtration systems are very effective, but can be costly for some. Utilizing a portable room air purification system is an affordable alternative to make your home a healthier place by improving air quality in the areas of your home you spend the most time in.
  • Applicability: Many older homes do not have central heating and cooling, making whole-home filtration systems not applicable. Room air purification systems are an easy way to reap the benefits of air purification in any home setting.
  • Localized filtration: If someone is sick in your household, it may be beneficial to utilize a room air purifier for quick acting, localized filtration that will limit the amount of germs that spread to other parts of your home.


Question Five: How can people protect themselves from poor air quality outside of their home?

 It can be hard to control the factors that affect outdoor air quality, but you can take steps limit your exposure to pollution by doing the following:

  • Check outdoor air quality forecasts and plan your daily activities accordingly. The EPA’s website has a great resource for local air quality conditions.
  • Opt to partake in outdoor activities when the air quality forecasts are looking good, and limit your time near heavy traffic or idling vehicles.
  • Opt for more environmentally friendly practices such as walking, biking, carpooling and conserving energy when possible. Doing your part to lower air pollution can improve not only your health, but the health of others as well.
  • If you live or work in an area where heavy air pollution is unavoidable, don’t be afraid to utilize a medical or industrial grade facemask to protect your health when venturing outdoors.

 * * *


  • Encourage people to ask more questions for Nurse Kate
  • Encourage people to consider whole home as well as room purifier solutions


The information contained on the Aprilaire website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. All information is for informational and educational purposes only and any use thereof is solely at your own risk.


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