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A Guide to Air Cleaners

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Indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks that we experience in our lives.  Generally, the best way to resolve this issue is to find and eliminate the source of the issue.  However, in most cases, you won’t be able to pinpoint the issue, nor will you be able to eliminate it, so the best case, the most common way, is to get an air filter in your home.

Many of these devices can be installed in the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) unit in your home if you have central air, and will require the changing of the air filters regularly.  However, if you don’t have this and installing one isn’t in the budget, there are many portable units that you can get that will filter the air in your home, without being a climate controlling device at the same time.  The downside to this, is that these units are not a whole-home solution.

Indoor Pollutants

This is from the EPA website:

Pollutants that can affect air quality in a home fall into the following categories:

  • Particulate matter includes dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander, tobacco smoke, particles generated from combustion appliances such as cooking stoves, and particles associated with tiny organisms such as dust mites, molds, bacteria, and viruses.
  • Gaseous pollutants come from combustion processes. Sources include gas cooking stoves, vehicle exhaust, and tobacco smoke. They also come from building materials, furnishings, and the use of products such as adhesives, paints, varnishes, cleaning products, and pesticides.

Will a filter reverse the negative health effects of air pollution?

While it’s impossible to say that this will help in all situations, the main thing to keep in mind is that less air pollution, including dander, dust, pollen, smoke, etc. is never a bad thing.  Many websites will claim that a good air filter will be the end-all solution, and this simply isn’t the case.  You’ll want to consult a professional allergist, Pulmonologist, and HVAC serviceman in order to determine your how your results will vary.


Here’s how an air filter works:

Keeping the Rivers of Oregon Safe

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Dead fish in a river

What toxic chemicals are of concern?

At the direction of the Oregon Legislature (SB 737, 2007 Oregon Legislature), the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has compiled a list of Priority Persistent Pollutants—chemicals that pose a threat to Oregon’s rivers and streams, fish and wildlife. The eco-certification programs promoted here have agreed to eliminate or reduce these Priority Persistent Pollutants in all products they certify, and to incorporate that inventory of toxic pollutants into screening and ranking systems. More information is available on the State of Oregon DEQ website.

How did the project get started and who funded it?

Using funding from the ACWA General Fund, ACWA member agencies, and a Oregon DEQ grant provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency, a project steering committee worked with two national consultants—Dr. Lauren Heine of Clean Production Action and Pamela Brody-Heine of Eco-Stewardship Strategies—to convince high priority, national eco-certification programs to incorporate the Oregon Priority Persistent Pollutant chemical inventory into their screening systems. Of the nine programs targeted, eight agreed to participate.

Contributors to the project included the City of McMinnville, City of Pendleton, City of Portland—Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Salem, Clackamas County Water Environment Services, Clean Water Services, and Oak Lodge Sanitary District.

A technical advisory team directed the project, including representatives of the Oregon Military Department, City of Portland—Bureau of Environmental Services, Oregon Health Authority, City of Lake Oswego, Oregon Environmental Council, Clean Water Services, Metro, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, Oregon DEQ, and Zero Waste Alliance.

The research aspect of the project was funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement C9-00045110 to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

A Buying Guide for Healthy Communities

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Keeping Oregon's Rivers Clean and Safe

Use this buying guide of resources to identify eco-certification labels and programs to protect public health and keep toxins out of Oregon’s rivers and streams.

• Design for the Environment—An EPA Partnership
• EcoLogo™ Program
• GoodGuide

Use the information from the GoodGuide to find rankings of household products looking for higher environmental scores. A free Apple iOS app for mobile devices is available that will help you find safe, healthy, and sustainable products while you shop. You can browse, search or simply scan a barcode to see detailed ratings for health, environment and social responsibility for more than 70,000 products and companies.

GoodGuide provides information about personal care, household chemical, toy, food and paper products for free on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, adding thousands of products every month. GoodGuide’s goal is to help people shop smarter and to motivate companies to offer even better products.

For electronic devices, including computers, monitors and laptops, you can find products registered as silver or gold standard by EPEAT (Electronic Products Environmental Tool), the definitive global registry for greener electronics.

• EPEAT inventory of certified products

For building products, the Pharos Project seeks to define a consumer-driven vision of truly green building materials and establish a method for evaluation using principles of environmental health and justice.

Available by subscription, the Pharos online database tools include the Building Product Library (BPL) and the Chemical and Material Library (CML). Each product in the BPL is scored on several environmental and health impact categories. Detailed product profiles include chemical and material ingredients, which are linked to their respective entries in the CML, with information on over 10,000 chemicals and materials.