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Answers to Go with Susan Smith

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Q. Can you help me find “Consumer Reports” information on air purifiers?

A. We have several ways to access “Consumer Reports.” If you prefer to come into the library, we have recent issues at the reference desk. You will use the index of the newest issue to find an index to articles by product. You may also call to request that we mail or email you a copy of an article.

From home, you can get free access to “Consumer Reports” articles by subject from the Ebsco Masterfile database. This is available on our website through a link to the TexShare databases. We would be happy to talk you through that process over the telephone. We pay for a subscription and will give you the library’s username and password for login.

Air purifiers must be selling well. I found three recent articles. The most detailed article came out in November 2017.

That article introduces the topic this way: “Your windows may be spotless and your floors may sparkle, but for millions of adults and children with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions, a house is only as clean as its air.

“Though it might be hard to believe, indoor air can be five times dirtier than what we breathe outside, exposing us to carcinogens including radon and formaldehyde, as well as quotidian lung-gunking impurities such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and a variety of particulate matter created when we burn candles or cook.

“But whether air purifiers can improve health is still up for debate. ‘There’s very little good science on air purifiers,’ says Norman Edelman, M.D., senior scientific adviser for the American Lung Association. ‘Used properly, they have been shown to modestly reduce allergy symptoms. However, the data on reduction of asthma attacks is less clear.’”

If you do decide to get an air purifier, this lengthy article compares 35 models. A follow-up Consumer Reports article with brand name information from October 2018 tested 14 large room models. Blueair Blue Pure 211 with a list price of $200 was top-rated for removing dust and smoke.

The 2017 article suggests other ways to improve the air quality in your home: Open a window (when it’s not too cold or the pollen count is not too high) to create a good exchange of indoor and outdoor air. Ban smoking in the house.

Run exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom to remove cooking fumes and steam. Be sure that your dryer vents to the outside to minimize lint.

If you have a forced air heating and cooling system, change the filters more often when there is more smoke or pollen in the air. Avoid air fresheners, scented candles and incense, which can trigger asthma.

Use a doormat and establish a shoes-off policy. Choose hard-surface flooring. Minimize carpet which can trap pollutants such as dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, dirt and dust.

Vacuum often, especially if you have a pet. Vacuums with bags release less dust and dirt when the bag is changed than bagless vacuums do when emptied. Microfiber dusting cloths capture more dust than a cotton rag.

Bathe pets and wash their bedding often to reduce allergy causing dander. Keep pets out of bedrooms.

Store chemicals (solvents, glues and pesticides) away from living areas, and when possible, use homemade cleaning products, such as a mixture of white vinegar and water.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666