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– What We Don’t Know but Should Know
about the Air We Breathe –

Part 4 - Which Technology Works the Best?

E. Which technology works best?

Which technology?

THAT something needs to be done is fairly obvious.  WHY people do what they do is evidenced by a recent market survey response where buyers of air filtration / "purification" devices or systems indicated their reasons for acquiring their systems.

Market Survey - Reasons people buy air filters/purifers

Two QUESTIONS still remain.

1) "Are the people who pay their money actually getting the answers to their concerns? And,

2) is the technology they are acquiring doing the job they are expecting?

As follows, they may well be surprised at what they are (or, really, are NOT) getting.

Active vs. Passive.  For all the dozens -- if not hundreds -- of devices offered to the public to do some sort of air filtering or purifying, they all, without exception, fall into one of only two categories, for there are just two basic approaches to IAQ issues. The most common - because until recently the only approach known - has been passive.

1. Passive technology.

Passive technology

Passive technology
always employs some form of filtration and always requires that contaminates find their way to the filtering device.

A filter is to the airborne contaminate what the spider's web is to the insect. No matter how big or how little, regardless of the size or design, a germ or bug may fly freely about the air space unless or until it is caught in the trap of the filter fibers or the web. If it is small enough to slip through the fibers or strong enough to wriggle loose, it is free to fly about again. Even if a filter were 100% effective at trapping and keeping 100% of the contaminates 100% of the time (which it never is or can be), its effectiveness would be limited only to those contaminates which physically pass through the filtering mechanism, leaving all the unfiltered air to remain contaminated.
Is your air filter any more effective than a spider's web?
Does this represent the air "purifier" you are depending upon?  If so, your technology is full of holes.

Passive air systems are just glorified vacuums.
A passive air purifier's ability to clean a room, like a vacuum cleaner, is limited to its physical location and its ability to move dirt toward its intake.
Another analogy would be that of a vacuum cleaner in a room saturated with dust and dirt - on the floor and carpet, the furniture, the drapes, the bookshelves, everywhere. Giving the vacuum credit for being 100% efficient (which it can never be) at removing dirt from any air that it suctions, put the vacuum in the room anywhere you like, high or low, and turn it on at maximum power. Regardless of what it does to the air and contaminates once they enter the machine, it's ability to clean the room is limited to its physical location and its ability to move dirt toward its intake.

Because of its inherent design technology, even powered by a jet engine, it will never clean the room completely. There will be wind current eddies and dead spots, just as in a running stream, that will harbor materials which will never see the inside of a passive air filter. (The kind of power it would take to get all the dirt into the vacuum would be enough to suck up the furnishings and carpet as well. Plus, the noise would be unbearable!)

Among the so called air "purifier" manufacturers, the competition is fierce. Some do speak of "CFM" (cubic feet per minute), the measured amount of air that can pass through such a system over a given period of time. Some companies or models use a germicidal light or other method to try to sanitize or sterilize the air which makes it through the device. At least one make boasts an incinerator to burn up contaminates as they pass through. But regardless of brand, model, size, capacity, or features, the hottest area of contention, however, is the efficiency of the filter/s themselves, often offered in multiples or multi-stages.

Filter cutaway.A term often heard among air device manufacturers is that their system or filter meets "HEPA" standards.

Developed after World War II to trap atomic dust particles, "HEPA" stands for "High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance". It generally means that the filter will capture 99.97% of particulates down to those as small as .3 microns, which includes some bacteria, fungal, and other opportunistic micro biologicals.

At first glance, that is pretty impressive. To be sure, for all those people who have gained some measure of relief by being able to breathe air whose contaminates have been reduced to some degree, HEPA and passive air purification has been a blessing. But the results have often been inconsistent and not stable enough to be accurately predictable from one venue to another or from one piece of equipment to the next.
Collection of HEPA filters
Even among those conforming to HEPA standards there will be discrepancies and deficiencies depending upon when the evaluation tests are run relative to the buildup of the load in the filter itself. Was the filtering medium fresh? Were the numbers achieved and averaged over any particular length/s of time and filtering loads? What were those parameters? How dirty was the air that went into the device? What was the measurable air flow at the time of the test, and how did it compare to later when the filter was much more full (dirtier)?

What most have observed about other types of filters, be they vacuum bags or oil or air filters for cars, is also true of HEPA filters. It stands to reason that a filter works by letting air pass through its openings, whether they be small or large (although the surrounding fibers are an impediment). As particles are caught on the surfaces of the filter's fibers, they bridge over the openings through which air is supposed to pass and clog them. As those openings become clogged, the number of remaining openings diminishes.

Side by side filter comparisonHence, the more that filtered particles build up on the filtering surfaces, the less efficient will be the flow of air through the filter. The slower the air stream through a filter, the fewer the particulates which will be taken out of the stream flow and the less will be the efficiency of the device. Unless a system's rating is based upon its minimum efficiency under loaded conditions, any filtering device will function at its best when new or equipped with fresh filtering media and drop off (often exponentially) as it does its job and the load increases.

While diminishing filter capacity concerns are a consideration, they do not represent the main weakness of passive technology. Nor is the issue primarily the relative power of the air moving device (fan horsepower, speed, blade efficiencies, etc.) The fundamental deficiency is that the technology is utterly dependent upon contaminates finding their way into the filter where they can be trapped. Experience has shown that not all contaminates cooperate in this effort.

And beyond those considerations, there may remain questions as to the viability of pathogens and mold spores, trapped to be sure, but which might still be able to pose a threat where they accumulate in the filtering device or may find themselves scattered when the filters are removed, replaced, or cleaned.
All of the above having been said and factored, there is one final concern, but it is staggering. It must be understood that not all HEPA filters are created equal.  And it must also be acknowledged that all HEPA filters do not perform at the same level or efficiencies.  Some do better earlier into their useful lives, while others may function not as well initially but be more consistent over their service life. Be that as it may, as of this time in history, the HEPA filter as a class seems to be the best of the best as far as filters and filtration technologies are concerned (all of which are passive and, consequently, limited as discussed). One huge fact remains, an issue having to do with the sheer physics of the problem.

While the list of particles and particle sizes filtered out by HEPA compliant filters appears to be impressively grand (all sizes down to .3 microns), 98.5% of all particle counts are <.5 microns! As tiny as these particles are individually, their collective mass comprises 6% by weight of all the particles in the air. If at first glance 6% of the weight of collective particulates may seem somewhat small, think of the massive amount of weight and the large particle sizes one would find in a full vacuum container bag or an air filter. Depending upon the vacuum or filter type, three to six percent (or even more) of all the particulates one would want cleaned from the breathing space would pass all the way through the filter and back out again, even if the filter device could force all the particles in the room to enter its orifice. Then remember that it is the small particulates (<.5 microns) which make us ill.
Has our technology kept up with the air problems we have created?

Passive air purification technology, regardless of how efficient, leaves unresolved any items or issues not passing through its system, and, is, therefore, an inferior and aged approach if utilized alone.

Pollution Removal Efficiancies for Passive Filters

Summary of the common problems
faced by ALL Passive Technologies
X IMPOSSIBLE for ALL air to get TO them and THROUGH them.

X FILTERS and PLATES become constant source of POLLUTION,
X FILTERS and PLATES have LIMITED EFFECT on VOC's, ODORS, BACTERIA, MOLD, and MILDEW which pass through the systems.
X Where UV lights are used, they affect only the specific areas
onto which they directly shine.
X VENTILATING is extremely expensive and limited in its effectiveness.

X If PASSIVE technology is so effective,

Top of Article --^
<-- Previous Item
Beginning of this Section

2. Active technology.
This is ACTIVE technology!

As designed for nature, there is virtually no such thing as "passive" air purification. While the natural processes for purifying water are primarily passive, outdoor air is purified by processes which are expressly active. Sunlight and lightning and the effects of the wind rushing through the trees (among others) give us our purified breathable air. The ability to do indoors what was designed for the outdoors lies at the heart of active (or pro-active) technology which does not wait for contaminates to find a filter.

Instead of a "spider's web" approach which depends upon particulates hitting the filter media, active air purification technology is like launching a never ending stream of billions of "microscopic electric fly swatters" or "Pac Men" which seek out and remove from the air whatever is floating around which would cause us respiratory distress. It utilizes an exclusive synergistic multi-stage combination of scientifically proven methods for finding and dealing with the contaminates wherever they are.

a. Stage One -- Dual Ionization (Particulate Removal).

Stage one is actually a combination of two steps. Two separate ion generators put out large volumes of both positive and negative ions and introduce them into the entire environmental space with very little noise. These opposingly charged ions penetrate through walls, attic spaces, and rooms throughout the building, causing air-borne particulates to flocculate or clump together, rendering them too heavy to remain air-borne

ions and ion attractions Although they were once small enough to remain airborne, electrically charged ions have attracted enough particulates together so that they must fall out of breathing range.

Like aircraft too heavy for their engines or jumbo jets out of fuel, the particulates stagger and fall to the floor, colliding, collecting, and clumping with others on their way down. Rather than passive, this is active technology which fully sweeps and cleans the interior air spaces and penetrates into cavity areas. Ions also adversely affect the health of pathogens while improving the feeling of well being among people and animals.

Research More on ionization here

Negative ion studies

How negative ions clean up the air

b. Stage Two -- Quad Oxidizing Plasmas.

Diagram of RCI Technology

Stage two involves the simultaneous use of another technology which introduces a plasma of multiple, "friendly" oxidizers into the living space. (They are known as "friendly", for, just as in nature, whether or not they have had the opportunity to do their assigned duties, within about thirty minutes, they revert right back to molecules of H2O from whence they were derived from the air in the atmosphere.)

Combining high intensity UVX light with a specially developed rare metal hydrophilic coating on an engineered matrix, Radiant Catalytic Ionization (RCI™) reduces airborne contaminants, and odors while creating super oxide ions and hydro-peroxides. While active, these oxidizers also have the potential of infiltrating behind wall cavities, and wherever they go they strip the very hardy shells off of mold spores, fungi, and numerous other pathogens and contaminants, killing them outright or rendering them very susceptible to destruction.

Effective UVX wavelength
By engineering the proper light wavelengths into the
RCI™ cell, what develops is a highly effective system designed to utilize 254 nm hv germicidal UV light. Falling between visible UV light and invisible X-Rays in the light spectrum, UVX makes use of the same oxidation and ionizing properties of light as naturally occurring sunlight. This technology takes advantage of these ionizing properties and combines them with the photo catalytic reactions of specific rare and noble metals to create Radiant Catalytic Ionization (RCI™). This innovative use of light is what makes RCI™ so effective.

KSU Executive Summary

Kansas State University Studies

KSU RCI Charted Test Results

University of Cincinnati Executive Summary

c. Stage Three -- Advanced Oxidization.

Radical Hydroxyls

In stage three, additional technology generates a tunable level of naturally occurring penetrating oxidation gases which attack the nuclei of the now exposed cells, either fully killing the pathogenic cell, or, as in the case of mold spores, affecting the RNA and the DNA of the spores so that they cannot reproduce. (While science cannot agree as to whether such a spore is technically "dead" or alive, there is agreement that neutered cells cannot proliferate and create mold or pathogenic colonies. Part of the problem may be that, because 200,000 or so spores can fit on the head of a pin, we may not have a stethoscope small enough to listen for a pulse on any of them.)

d. Combo Effect -- The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of its Parts.
Combo Effect
"These are highly reactive chemical species. Hydroxyl radicals are very strong oxidizers and will attack all kinds of organic materials.” -- Daniel Blake, Dept of Energy’s Natural Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado

As with the ions, the generated oxidizing plasmas are so efficient that they penetrate to wherever the germs are hiding and render them harmless. This patented triple combination of pro-active technologies is available exclusively under the trade name of "RCI"TM, so named for "Radiant Catalytic Ionization", also trademarked. RCITM has been shown in university studies to have a kill rate as high as six log (99.9999%) of surface laden pathogens anywhere in the air space

KSU RCI Charted Test Results

There's More!

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Check out the videos
Check out the videos

Overview Topics

Is There a Problem?

A. Is There a Problem?

An introduction to indoor air quality issues.

What Don't We Know

B. What Don't We Know?

The problem is worse than we


Need to Know

C. What Do We Need to Know?

Sorting out the info and charting a course to follow.


What Are We Breathing?

D. What are We Breathing?

Unwelcome guests we receive every time we breathe.



1. Particulates.

Airborne pieces of a lot of stuff we should not be breathing.


Fields of Potential Allergens

2. Allergens.

The body’s “hit list” of alien invaders.



3. Pathogens. 

The bacteria, viruses, and germs which reproduce in the human body and try to stage a takeover.


One of kazillions of Odor Sources in a home or building

4. Odors.

Things have odors for a reason, but why?
Can the problem be corrected rather than merely masked or covered up?


VOC's on Demand

5. Chemicals/Smoke/VOC's.
Are we possibly drowning in a toxic soup?



6. Mold.

Is what we see dangerous?
And is what we don't see
perhaps more dangerous than what we do see?  


Which Technology?

E. Which Technology Works the Best?

Are the technologies pretty much equal, or is their a large disparity among them?


Passive Technology

1. Passive Technology.

The pollution finds the solution.
(Or so we hope!)


Active Technology

2. Active Technology.

The solution finds the pollution -
even where it is hiding!



a. Stage One --
Dual Ionization (Particulate Removal)


Quad Oxidizing Plasma Generator
b. Stage Two -- Quad Oxidizing Plasmas


Radical Hydroxyls

c. Stage Three -- Advanced Oxidation


RCI Technology
d. Combo Effect -- The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of its Parts.


Apples and Oranges

3. Major Differences.

Things that are not the same
are not equal.


Out of this world

a. Literally out of this world.

The technology which produces
"the purest air on the planet"
actually comes from
out of this world.


Overall air purity

b. Overall Air Purity.

By what standard do you certify the actual purity of air?


Lab tech

c. Too Clean to Test for Purity?

"Without dirt in the air,
we cannot tell you
how pure the air is."
Does that strike anybody as odd?


Where's the dirt?
d. Where's the Dirt?

(Where is Clara Peller
when you need her?)


What to do?

e. What to do? 

Anybody can see that it’s clean except the career bureaucrats.


Where are the germs?

f. Where are the Germs?

Hint: One place they are not is
"Blowin' in the Wind".


Who gets to clean the conventional filter?

g. Filtration rates vs. Kill rates.

In the war against pathogens,
would you like your germs
captured and contained
or killed "graveyard dead"?


Odor abatement/removal

h. Odor Abatement/Removal.

The same thing that RCITM
does to particulates and germs it does also to smoke, dust, and sources of odors.


What must be considered?

F. What IAQ issues must be considered and addressed?

Head to head comparison of the technologies - very revealing.


Medical considerations

G. Are there medical considerations?

Obligatory disclaimers and the practical realities of what happens when a sick body can actually catch its breath.


Legal considerations

H. Are there legal and other considerations?

What happens if we just ignore the problem or fail to investigate it fully?


When is timing an issue?

I. When is Timing an Issue?

If the mold or other air quality problem doesn't seem to be spreading or getting any worse, so we really have to pay it any attention?