El Sid's Green Space
Effective Air Filtration

48 Pounds

According to the National Lung Association, 6 in 10 Americans will be harmed from air pollution.  Atmospheric air in metropolitan and industrial areas is an invisible cesspool.  Each day, adult humans breathe in 48 pounds of it each day.  Each 48 pounds has particles that are only .000003 inches large.  The World Health Organization warned of the connection between respiratory health problems and this junk.  The Journal of the American Medical Association cited cardiopulmonary mortality from it.  These invisible particles kill tens of thousands of Americans each year.  It's a quiet form of terrorism. 

Polluters are super terrorists.

The hazard of small particulates has only recently been recognized.  Previously, only particles that were a lot larger were of concern.  We know better now.

Air filters can remove most of these harmful particulates.  They can ensure  healthy indoor environments, protecting heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.  They can make popcorn smell better.  Small specks must be  banished to manufacture those wondrous memory chips that make it possible for computers to do their thing.  Benefits go on and on, but not air filters  will do what is needed. 

Air filters use special materials (called filter media) that capture those devilish specks.  Take a look at the two types of filter media shown below.  Guess  which media will do more effective filtering. 

Coarse synthetic media                     Fine fiber media

Obviously, the fine media will do a better job of straining, whether it is soup or air.  That fine media is fiberglass.  It was once thought that fiberglass posed a health hazard in filters.  This concern was proven unfounded by The World Health  Organization.  Nevertheless, the earlier concerns sparked the adoption of synthetic coarser media.  Because this coarser media is less costly it remains in use.

To compensate for the larger openings in coarse synthetic media, an electrostatic charge is put on it.  This is a one time initial charge applied during manufacturing the filter.  The charge grabs small particles that would otherwise stream through
large openings. The particles tend to have electrostatic charges on them.  Grabbing  works, with opposites attracting (like sex).  But this grabbing only works for a  short period of time.  When the charge is exhausted, the media loses its attractive
power.  When that happens, the effectiveness of the filter declines.  El Sid saw it hundreds of times in laboratory tests.  The University of Minnesota verified it in a series of independent tests over a 19 week period.  

Their study concluded, "At a time when efficient filters are required to prevent particles from an HVAC system from harming human health, the changes in efficiency for filters with an electrostatic charge is a concern".  Other studies and tests 
comparing competitive filters in airflow systems confirmed and re-confirmed  the basic weakness of relying on charged filters.  

In general, filters which have lost their charge are more expensive to operate over their full life cycle.  This translates into huge hidden costs in industrial,  pharmaceutical, business, and institutional  installations.  Although electrostatically
charged filters cost less to begin with, they cost more in the long run.  Worse  than that, the efficiency of air filtration that was paid for is quickly lost.  "To buy a filter based on its initial price is like buying an automobile based on the cost of its tires", according to Don Thornburg.  He is the Research and Development manager at Camfil Farr Inc. a major air filter manufacturer.  Don helped develop  standards used by the industry for testing air filters. He developed many techniques
for proving air filtration effectiveness and the total cost to operate. One pharmaceutical  company was saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process of getting a cleaner  48 pounds of air for each employee. 
In addition to conducting stringent tests in their laboratory, Camfil Farr puts various filters in the same airflow system to compare results under the identical conditions. It has a laboratory on wheels that brings testing to a customer's facility.  Smaller devices, local to customers,  are used to pinpoint choices for the lowest lifetime operating operating cost.  Camfil Farr also makes filters that remove chemical toxins from the air, along with small particulates. 
The largest amount of energy consumed in commercial buildings is for HVAC systems. Few people are aware of this hidden cost.  

El Sid is proud to have served under the leadership of Don Thornburg. 

  Before his retirement from Camfil Farr, El Sid is shown operating a device that measures air particles as small as
.00000003 inches.  To the left is another instrument that measures specks which are .000000007 inches in size. 
The advent of these devices revolutionized the science of monitoring air purity.  


Camfil Farr, inc. -

Natural Resources Defense Council - http://www.nrdc.org/
Union of Concerned Scientists - http://www.ucsusa.org/
Nuclear Information and Resource Service - http://www.nirs.org/
Sierra Club -
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Beyond Nuclear -  http://www.beyondnuclear.org/
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Environmental Defense Fund - http://www.fightglobalwarming.org/
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