Performance and costs of particle air filtration in HVAC supply airstreams Page: 1 of 8
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January 6, 2003
Performance and Costs of Particle Air Filtration in HVAC Supply Airstreams
William J. Fisk and David Faulkner Jari Palonen and Olli Seppanen
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Helsinki University of Technology
Indoor Environment Department, MS 90-3058 Laboratory of Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning
Berkeley, CA 94720 02150 Espoo, Finland
This paper uses a model, and data on particle size distributions, filter efficiencies, and particle deposition
rates to estimate the reductions in the indoor mass concentrations of particles attainable from use of filters
in HVAC supply airstreams. Additionally, the energy and total costs of the filtration options are
estimated. Predicted reductions in cat and dust-mite allergen concentrations range from 20% to 60%.
Increasing filter efficiencies above approximately ASHRAE Dust Spot 65% (MERV 11) does not
significantly reduce predicted indoor concentrations of these allergens. For environmental tobacco smoke
particles and outdoor fine mode particles, calculations indicate that relatively large, e.g., 80%, decreases
in indoor concentrations are attainable with practical filter efficiencies. Increasing the filter efficiency
above ASHRAE Dust Spot 85% (MERV 13) results in only modest incremental decreases in
concentrations. Energy costs and total costs do not always increase for higher efficiency filters. Total
estimated filtration costs of $0.70 to $1.80 per person per month are insignificant relative to salaries, rent,
or health insurance costs.
Several classes of health effects are linked to particle exposures that may be reduced via filtration.
Allergy and asthma symptoms may be produced in susceptible individuals upon inhalation of allergenic
particles, such as pet allergens, dust mite allergens, and pollen from outdoor plants (Committee on Health
Effects of Indoor Allergens 1993). Infectious diseases such as influenza and some common colds can
result from the inhalation of droplet nuclei from people's coughs and sneezes that carry infectious
organisms (e.g., Dick et al. 1987). Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), a mixture of particles and gases,
is associated with increases in lung cancer, heart disease, asthma exacerbation, and other health effects
(e.g., California EPA 1997). Increased concentrations of particles in outdoor air are associated with
increases in hospital admissions, deaths, and other health effects (EPA 1996a); however, most people's
exposures to these outdoor particles occur predominately indoors where approximately 90% of their time
is spent. The sizes of the particles linked with health effects vary widely. Since filter efficiency and rates
of particle deposition to surfaces also vary with particle size, the concentration reductions attained from
filtration, and the incremental benefits of using higher efficiency filters, will vary markedly with particle
type. Despite the widespread use of filtration systems, the influence of different air filtration options on
indoor concentrations of particles has not been well documented.
Reductions in indoor concentrations
A mass-balance model was used to estimate the reductions in the indoor concentrations of different
particle types from use of air filters in supply airstreams of HVAC systems. The modeling assumes a
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Fisk, William J.; Faulkner, David; Palonen, Jari & Seppanen, Olli. Performance and costs of particle air filtration in HVAC supply airstreams, article, June 1, 2003; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc738204/m1/1/: accessed April 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.