November 26, 2014

Is Your Air Cleaner Cleaning the Air?

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) is the trade association representing manufacturers of major, portable, and floor care appliances and suppliers to the industry. Included in AHAM membership are manufacturers of portable room air cleaners. AHAM is a standards development organization for numerous technical, performance based standards for home appliances. AHAM also administers third party appliance rating verification programs which are available to members and non-members alike.
Portable Room Air Cleaner Performance Standard
In the early 1980s, AHAM developed an objective and repeatable performance test method for measuring the ability of portable household electric room air cleaners to reduce particulate matter from a specific size room. The standard, ANSI/AHAM AC-1-2006, Method for Measuring the Performance of Portable Household Electric Room Air Cleaners, is designed to evaluate portable household electric room air cleaners regardless of the particle removal technology utilized. The resulting performance metric in the standard is called the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). CADR is a measure of the appliance’s ability to reduce smoke, dust, and pollen particles in the 0.10 to 11 micron (ìm) size range from the air. In ANSI/AHAM AC-1-2006, CADR is defined as “the rate of contaminant reduction in the test chamber when the unit is turned on, minus the rate of natural decay when the unit is not running, multiplied by the volume of the test chamber as measured in cubic feet.”

Comparing CADR Performance
The terms “CADR” and “Clean Air Delivery Rate” are general terms used to make performance claims for many types of products other than portable room air cleaners. CADR values for other products may not have been calculated in accordance with the AC-1 definition of CADR.

Since its original development in the early 1980s, the ANSI/AHAM AC-1 test method has increasingly become the credible industry standard for evaluating portable room air cleaner particle removal performance. In 1989, the FTC confirmed that ANSI/AHAM AC-1 was a reasonable basis for measuring the degrees of reduction of airborne solid p 2 particulate matter from household rooms.

What is Not Covered by ANSI/AHAM AC-1?
Research efforts and experimental tests that have been conducted to develop the method have included only portable devices that are normally placed in a room during operation. One of the key principles of the test is that particles are not to be forced through the product – rather, the product is being tested as it is used – it is placed on a table or on the floor in the chamber in order to allow the unit’s own design and air flow patterns to dictate how many particles go into the unit. In addition, other portable room air cleaner performance characteristics such as the ability of the air cleaner to reduce gases, odors or microbiological components, or the sound and ozone emissions levels of the product are outside the scope of ANSI/AHAM AC-1-2006.

Industry Certification Program (www.cadr.org)
Since 1985, AHAM has administered a portable room air cleaner certification program based on the ANSI/AHAM AC-1standard whereby AHAM, acting as third party using an independent testing laboratory, will verify product ratings certified by program participants.

The seal provides the consumer with a simple tool to compare the performance of room air cleaners, making the purchasing decision easier. It includes the participant’s certified CADR rates for tobacco smoke, dust and pollen, and a suggested room size that is based on the tobacco smoke CADR results. Using the CADR rating seal, consumers can comparison shop, selecting the unit the meets their room size and performance needs. By knowing the size of their room, consumers can choose an effective air cleaner. Portable air cleaner models included in the program are independently tested on a periodic on-going basis to ensure that the units meet the claimed ratings. The models to be tested are randomly selected and are obtained from either the participant’s warehouse or the open market. Units that do not successfully pass the on-going verification process must be re-rated or withdrawn from the market.