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Allergy, Asthma: Consumer Reports Magazine Knowingly Recommends Inferior Air Cleaners And Air Purifiers.  Previous Next

Consumer Reports Magazine Knowingly Recommends Inferior Air Cleaners And Air Purifiers.

by: Barry Cohen

Consumer Reports Magazine Knowingly Recommends Inferior Air Cleaners And Air Purifiers.
This information, is brought to you by Absolute Air Cleaners and Purifiers Inc.

When a trusted and respected consumer product review magazine does not properly test and evaluate a product category, their product recommendations can actually be a HUGE DISSERVICE to their readers. According to IQAir North America and other top air cleaner manufacturers, this is the case in the October 2005 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine where the magazine includes an article titled "Air Cleaners: Some Do Little Cleaning." In this article, Consumer Reports Magazine glorifies poorly designed, low quality room air cleaners, giving them top recommendations, and failed to recognize vastly superior air cleaners such as of IQAir's HealthPro HEPA air cleaners, Austin Air Healthmate HEPA air cleaners and the TRACS HEPA air cleaners that also include non ozone producing Ultraviolet light systems that will eliminate mold spores, bacteria and viruses from the indoor air environment. These top quality brands of HEPA air cleaners are recognized by product-testing agencies, well known air cleaner dealers and product reviewers from around the world as the top HEPA room air cleaners on the market available for home, hospital room and business use.

The question of why these other {Superior} top quality HEPA air cleaner brands are not in Consumer Reports' top recommended air cleaner products is no mystery to air cleaning experts. The problem stems from Consumer Reports' adoption of a major flawed and outdated clean air delivery rate also known as the CADR testing protocol originating from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), a trade association that promotes for the interests of their paying members.

There are five huge flaws to Consumer Reports' air cleaner testing that result in misleading recommendations to consumers.

First, Consumer Reports Magazine fails to inform consumers that they do not actually test air cleaners for particle removal. Many of Consumer Reports' top ranked air cleaner products use electrostatic or ionizing technologies which add an electrostatic charge to airborne particles causing them to temporarily adhere or drop to a nearby surface. In the testing chamber, this temporarily attracts the particles away from the detection area of the particle counting test equipment, but when the electrostatic charge dissipates those particles can quickly become airborne again. Consumer Reports' does not distinguish between particles permanently removed by the air cleaner and charged particles that are temporarily attached to test chamber surfaces through ionization. The IQ Air HealthPro, Austin Air Healthmate and TRACS HEPA air cleaners all clean the air by filtration only, permanently removing particles from the room or open area at a very high air exchange rate per hour-never to become airborne again.

Second, Consumer Reports only tests for an air cleaners' ability to affect the largest 20% of airborne particles (particles larger than 0.1 microns), but approximately 80% of all particles are smaller than 0.1 microns. Scientists agree that it is these ultra-fine particles that present the greatest health risks to consumers because they can penetrate deeply into the lungs and reach every cell of our bodies. Many room air cleaners sold to consumers have poor efficiency for ultra-fine particles.

Units containing certified hospital grade HEPA filters have a minimum efficiency of 99.5% on particles down to 0.003 microns, and therefore are capable of removing this harmful ultra-fine particles. This efficiency rating is known as the H13 standard for HEPA filters, and is standard with most individually certified HEPA filters.

Third, Consumer Reports fails to test room air cleaners for their ability to remove gases and odors. Gases and odors contribute significantly to potentially unhealthy indoor air pollution. Not testing for gas and odor removal significantly disadvantages air cleaners that contain considerable gas and odor filtration technology. This is because gas filters notably reduce airflow during the Consumer Reports test. Most of the 30 air cleaners tested by Consumer Reports are advertised as being effective against gases and odors, but only two of the air cleaners tested contain significant gas and odor filtration.

In order for consumers to benefit from effective odor, chemical, and gas removal, significant amounts of odor adsorption filtration must be employed. The primary means of odor, chemical, and gas removal is through activated and blended carbons, and given carbon adsorbs fumes like a sponge, units using bulk carbon filters (at least 3 lbs) are able to remove more odors chemicals, and gases than systems that use only a very small amount of carbon, mostly carbon dust impregnated into thin fiber pads. Multiple pounds of activated carbon are a much safer technology than what is found in ionizers as well, for ionizers typically produce non adjustable levels of ozone, and this is often their only means of odor removal. However, as stated by the US Environmental Protection Agency, units that produce ozone can present a health risk, especially for those with asthma or lung problems given the amount of ozone needed to effectively remove odors, chemicals, and gases.

Fourth, Consumer Reports fails to inform consumers that the entirety of their air cleaner evaluation is based on testing the air cleaner for a period of only thirty (30) minutes. Air cleaning experts have long been aware that poorly designed air cleaners lose much of their effectiveness within a few days of use. Long-term testing would reveal the inefficiency of electrostatic precipitators and ionizers as air cleaners. It would also demonstrate the problems inherent in air cleaners that use synthetic HEPA instead of mechanical HEPA. Mechanical HEPA filtration has been the technology of choice in critical environments, such as hospitals and clean room's, for decades. Although air cleaners with synthetic HEPA filters have a higher initial airflow in a testing chamber, they have been demonstrated to significantly lose efficiency and re-release particles over time.

Air cleaners that use individually certified HEPA filters (the same as those used in hospitals across the world) do not lose their efficiency over time. In fact, a certified HEPA filter's efficiency actually increases as it becomes clogged, for it becomes more and more difficult for particles to pass through.

Lastly, while Consumer Reports scorns some air cleaners for producing ozone, they backhandedly recommend air cleaners that also produce significant amounts of ozone. Consumer Reports appears to take the stance that some degree of ozone production is acceptable in room air cleaners. Ethical HEPA air cleaner manufacturers that produce quality air cleaner products share the belief of the American Lung Association that HEPA air cleaners and air purifiers should not produce any amounts of ozone.

Most of the air cleaners tested and recommended by Consumer Reports would not be deemed acceptable to be used in hospitals and other critical environments due to the unreliability of their technology and their poor long-term performance. Consumer Reports needs to recognize that consumers use room air cleaners for an equally important health environment-their homes and work places. Consumers deserve air cleaner evaluations at the same high standards used by hospitals and other critical environments.

If Consumer Reports Magazine adopts better testing methods, they will soon realize they have long recommended poorly designed room air cleaners / air purifiers. The problem is that many air cleaner / air purifier manufactures and dealers have been complaining to Consumer Reports about upgrading their testing methods for years with absolutely no luck at all! Payola?? We Wonder!

So for now it is advisable to do your own air cleaner and air purifier research with the professional dealers that sell them so you can make an educated decision when purchasing an air cleaner or air purifier that will best suit your needs!

For honest, accurate information on top quality HEPA air cleaners and air purifiers, see the website at

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