AHAM Clears the Air on Air Cleaners in 2006
Dec 26, 2006
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In January, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) announced that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved ANSI/AHAM AC-2-2006, Method for Sound Testing of Portable Household Electric Room Air Cleaners, as a new American National Standard. This standard, which can be used to obtain sound ratings for air cleaners, supersedes the AHAM AC-2-2004. The process of obtaining ANSI approval includes a separate review of the standard by an ANSI consensus panel of interested stakeholders. The process provides all parties with an opportunity to review and comment on the standard. As a result of the review process, a number of important revisions were made to the 2004 version. AHAM also maintains ANSI/AHAM AC-1-2006, Method for Measuring the Performance of Portable Household Electric Room Air Cleaners, is the only U.S.-recognized performance test method for measuring the ability of portable room air cleaners to reduce airborne particulate matter in a room.

AHAM Speaks Out

AHAM spoke out in June to refute over-generalized media reports that claimed all air cleaners produce unhealthy levels of ozone. AHAM pointed out that there are many different air-cleaning technologies available to consumers. The most popular type of portable room air cleaners in the U.S. - those using only a fan and high efficiency filter to draw in and trap airborne particulates - emit no more ozone than any typical household electrical device.

Some air cleaners use ionization or electrostatic precipitation to charge particulates passing through the machine and collect the charged particles on metal plates essentially trapping particles using static cling. While this technology does create a low level of ozone as a bi-product of ionization, the devices are not considered to be "ozone generators." Consumers may check with the manufacturers of these devices for specific ozone levels and to ensure that the unit has been tested according to the applicable safety standard, such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) test for ozone.

Another category of devices called ozone generators are specifically designed to emit ozone. This is the product that has received the most attention in the media for potential adverse health effects on some people. Because of these concerns, legislation has been introduced in California that, if enacted, would ban the sale of ozone generators in the state.

AHAM said it does not object to legislation aimed at ozone generators, but strongly believes any regulation must distinguish these products from the many other useful, harmless products.

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