11 Aug A Message for My Vacuum Cleaner
You have served me well for a very long time, but there has to be something that holds dust better
Dust containment. This is the term on my mind this morning as we near completion of our bathroom renovation project. My aging vacuum has done a commendable job, sucking up the sanded drywall compound and other mess that left a trail down the hall. But the unseen microscopic remnants are lingering. I know this every time someone sneezes, including the cat and the dog.
While this website has focused on chemical emissions when discussing Indoor Air Quality, dust, particulates and other allergens deserve equal attention. In keeping with that, I am coming to terms with reality: My vacuum cleaner is no longer the top of the line. It has seen me through every tough job, and it operates with admirable suction power. But too much of what it sucks up comes back out of its filter and it’s polluting my indoor air.
It is probably time to look for high-filtration technology, although the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) – which has a certification program for vacuum cleaners – says these costlier options are not always necessary.
These options are High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration or Ultra Low Penetration Air (ULPA) filtration. Next to a central vacuum system, which vents outside the home, ULPA filters are the most efficient, according to Texas A&M University. These filters retain particulates as small as 0.12 micrometers at an efficiency rate of 99.999 percent. Look for a certification number on the product for verification.
Next in line is the HEPA filter. A&M says that these retain particulates as small as 0.3 micrometers at an efficiency rate of 99.97 percent.
For more guidance, CRI, a manufacturers’ trade organization, uses an independent laboratory to test vacuum cleaners on multiple points of performance. CRI’s website also offers a wealth of information on how to choose the vacuum cleaner that is best suited for your carpet or flooring. For example, engaging the vacuum’s beater bar – the high speed on my vacuum cleaner – is not recommended for the wool carpet in my home.
“That’s good news in these tight-budget times,” she says.
CRI will not give a Seal of Approval to a residential vacuum cleaner that releases more than 100 micrograms of dust particles per cubic meter of air. There is a list of brand names and models on their website, which have achieved CRI’s Gold, Silver of Bronze Seal of Approval.
I have only been through the list once, but have my eye on a HEPA filtration system. And this one means, when all is said and done, my bathroom remodel is coming in a little over budget.©
— Nancy Kibbee is editor at naturalinteriors.com