Camfil Commercial Air Filters News – One of the most damaging and common air pollutants is nitrogen dioxide (NO2). NO2 is made out of atoms of both oxygen and nitrogen that poses a serious danger to people’s health and the environment. It contributes to a thick, noxious haze in the air that decreases visibility, causes lung damage, and damages plant life. It’s extremely important to be aware of the harmful effects NO2 can have, its potential sources, and ways to protect yourself from it.
Nitrogen Dioxide Air Pollution Makes Commercial HVAC Air Filters
NO2 is often emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels or biofuels, though it can also come from interactions in the atmosphere between nitric oxide (NO) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). NO2 emissions are highly correlated with emissions of other nitrogen oxides. For this reason, control measures that reduce emissions of other nitrogen oxides will reduce levels of NO2 as well.
“Levels of nitrogen NO2 in the air will often shift due to direct emissions and fluctuating concentrations of chemical precursors,” explained Camfil’s Charlie Seyffer, Manager of Marketing & Technical Materials for commercial air filters and 37-year ASHRAE member and active committee participant. “Despite this, NO2 has been selected as the indicator for controlling ambient levels of nitrogen oxides (NOX) in general. This is because there’s often limited information on ambient levels of NO and NOX, and the health effects of exposure to NO or NOX aren’t as well known as the health effects of NO2 exposure.”¹
While NO2 is a threat by itself, it can also lead to the formation of other air pollutants. The photochemical reactions between sunlight, VOCs, and NO2 can give rise to pollutants like ozone. NO2 is also a key ingredient in the formation of nitrite, nitric acid (HNO3), nitrosamines, and nitro-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (nitro-PAHs).
Commercial Air Filtration Systems Shield People’s Lungs From Nitrogen Dioxide
Research indicates that exposure to NO2 can cause lung damage and respiratory diseases. Controlled human exposure studies have shown that NO2 exposure can exacerbate asthma and intensify responses to allergens. Epidemiological studies have also found strong associations between NO2 exposure and cardiopulmonary effects, such as decreased lung function and respiratory-related emergency room visits.
“Children are at greater risk for harm from NO2 because they spend more time outdoors and are therefore exposed to more NO2 than adults,” warned Seyffer. “Several studies have found that long-term NO2 exposure as a child can lead to smaller lungs as an adult, as the NO2 prevents proper lung growth. Children with asthma also have lungs that are more easily irritated by pollutants, when compared to adult asthmatics.” ²
Adults who have chronic respiratory or cardiovascular ailments like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are also at severe risk for harm when exposed to NO2.
Industrial Air Filtration Units Can’t Affect Ambient Nitrogen Dioxide Levels, So NO2 Continues to Harm The Environment
In addition to harming people’s health, NO2 can easily damage the vegetation within a region or ecosystem. NO2 wreaks havoc on the leaves of trees and crops, impacting their ability to respire achieve photosynthesis. It’s important to note, however, that this damage typically only occurs when the duration of NO2 exposure is at least 0.2 ppm for at least 100 hours.
NO2 can create a thick haze that leads to the reduction of visibility. It transforms into a reddish-brown haze by absorbing the shorter blue wavelengths of visible light, and it also contributes to the creation of nitrate aerosol haze.
Commercial HEPA Air Filters Combined with Source Control Can Protect You from Nitrogen Dioxide
Indoor levels of NO2 threaten people’s health, much as outdoor nitrogen dioxide does. It’s important to limit levels of indoor nitrogen dioxide, whether through source control or the use of commercial molecular high efficiency air filters (carbon).
Source control means finding potential sources of NO2 and controlling their emissions. Space heaters and gas stoves are common sources of indoor of NO2. NO2 levels are affected by the number of NO2-emitting appliances in a home, the air exchange rate of the building, and the season of the year.
“Improperly vented furnaces, clothes dryers, and water heaters are also sources of indoor NO2, though emissions from them aren’t quite as common,” described Seyffer. “Levels of NO2 are often higher in the winter than in the summer, likely because gas appliances are used more often in winter while windows remain closed more frequently.”³
Molecular high efficiency air filters can help protect people’s lungs from nitrogen dioxide particles. They are also capable of absorbing up to 99.97% of all particles of pollutants, making them excellent protective tools for those who have sensitivities to NO2 and other forms of air pollution.
If you live in an area that has high levels of NO2 pollution, you may also want to purchase a portable air purifier that uses molecular high efficiency air filters. This will provide you with extra protection from NO2, beyond what a regular HVAC system by itself can provide you with.
Industrial Air Filtration and Ventilation Must Be Employed Alongside Strict Air Quality Standards
Because of the damage that nitrogen oxide can cause, air quality standards set by regulatory agencies like the EPA are of extreme importance. Ambient air quality standards reflect the maximum amount of a pollutant that may be in the ambient air without damaging people’s health.
The national limit for 1-hour nitrogen dioxide levels at is 0.100 parts per billion (ppb). The current standard was set in 2010 following an extensive literature review, which implied that previous standards for NO2 were too high to prevent negative health effects. While this is the EPA’s national limit, individual states can – and often do – create their own limits. For example, the state of California set the limit for one-hour NO2 at 0.18 ppm, a slightly larger margin than the national standard. A state may choose to set their own limit for NO2 because their own researchers may advise that a different level of NO2 is safe.
For information on how severe the levels of nitrogen dioxide and other air pollutants are in your area, check your local air quality forecast at Airnow.gov. This will help you make an educated decision about the type of commercial air filter you need for your home HVAC system.
Camfil USA is the leading provider of commercial filtration, which is guaranteed to absorb particles of nitrogen dioxide and other harmful air pollutants. Contact us today to have your questions about filters or nitrogen dioxide answered by knowledgeable professionals.
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