Helpful Terms to Know

The following are definitions commonly associated with indoor air and water quality.

A - B

  • Airborne Particles

    Airborne particles include smoke, smog, bacteria, household dust, pet dander, mold spores, dust mite debris and pollen. These particles range in size between 0.3 to 100 microns. Considering that the average diameter of a human hair is 50 microns, these particles are so small that most pass through ordinary furnace filters and return to the air in your home. This can negatively impact your indoor air quality.

  • Allergen

    An allergen is a substance capable of producing a reaction in people sensitive to allergens. In the case of people with asthma, allergens that are inhaled can trigger symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Allergens that may cause asthma symptoms include animal dander, dust mites, mold and pollen.

  • Allergy

    Allergies are an abnormally high sensitivity to certain substances, such as pollen, certain foods or microorganisms. Common indications of an allergy may include sneezing, itching and skin rashes.

  • Asthma

    Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory lung disease characterized by recurrent breathing problems. Symptoms can be triggered by allergens, as well as infection, exercise, cold air and other factors.

  • Bacteria

    Bacteria are living organisms, microscopic in size, which usually consist of a single cell. Most bacteria feed on organic matter and produce waste products. Bacteria are everywhere—on everything we see and touch, and even in the air we breathe.

C - D

  • Chemical Emission

    Chemical emissions are gases or particulates that have been released into the air.

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)

    Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It is created by the incomplete burning of natural gas or any other material containing carbon, including gasoline, kerosene oil, propane, coal and wood.

  • Combustion Pollutant

    Combustion pollutants are byproducts of the combustion or burning process. Burning fuels such as coal, oil, gas, and wood produces many pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates. Combustion also produces airborne emissions and solid waste such as ash and sludge.

  • Dust

    Household dust is composed of a wide variety of particles including dead skin from humans and pets, finely ground plant and insect parts, minute particles of sand and soil, and fabric fibers. Daily activities can stir up dust into the air. Dust can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people, and can cause sneezing, runny nose and itchy/watering eyes.

  • Dust Mites

    Dust mites are tiny microscopic creatures related to ticks and spiders. Dust mites feed on skin flakes and can be found throughout the home, in mattresses, pillows, carpets and furniture. They produce airborne particles that can trigger allergic reactions or asthma episodes when inhaled by people who are sensitive to them.

  • Dust Mite Debris

    Dust mite debris is made up of the excrement and fragments of dust mites.

E - F

  • Electrostatic ChargeStory

    The electrostatic charge of Filtrete air filters acts like a magnet to attract and capture particles that can pass through fiberglass filters or other non-charged pleated filters. A Filtrete filter with electrostatically charged fibers performs better than non-electrostatic filters. The actual effectiveness of an air filter in allergen reduction depends on a variety of factors including the amount of air that the filter processes, the nature of the allergens and the rate at which the allergens are being introduced into the home. Electrostatic filters are most effective when new and clean.

  • Forced Air System

    A forced air system is a heating and cooling system in which air is blown by a fan through air channels or ducts to rooms.

  • Formaldehyde

    Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC). Potential sources in the home include pressed wood products such as particleboard or fiberboard, smoking, and glues and adhesives.

H - I

  • HEPA

    HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. This is a rating system used by the Department of Energy to denote an air cleaner or filter that is 99.97% efficient or better at removing 0.3 micron-sized particles from the air passing through it.

  • Irritant

    An irritant is a substance that, when breathed in, irritates the airways and can trigger asthma symptoms. Common examples include strong perfumes, cigarette smoke, and fumes from harsh cleaning fluids.

M - N

  • Micron

    One micron is one millionth of a meter or approximately 1/25,000 of an inch. For comparison, a human hair is 50-70 microns thick.

  • Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR)

    The 3M MPR (Microparticle Performance Rating) reports a filter's ability to capture tiny particles between 0.3 and 1 micron in size.

  • Microparticles

    Microparticles are tiny airborne particles measuring between 0.3 and 1.0 micron. These include fine dust, smoke, smog, bacteria and some pet dander and pollen particles.

  • Mold Spores

    Mold spores are generated from mold, which is a fungus that grows in humid conditions. These spores can produce allergic reactions.

  • Non-electrostatic Filters

    Non-electrostatic filters include 3-month pleated, washable and fiberglass filters that do not have electrostatically charged fibers. Filtrete 1" and 4" residential filters with electrostatically charged fibers have been proven to perform better than 1" and 4" residential non-electrostatic filters.

P - R

  • Parasitic Cysts

    Parasitic cysts are egg-like sacs formed by the larva of a parasite. Sometimes found in unfiltered tap water, parasitic cysts can cause serious gastrointestinal infection and illness if consumed.

  • Pet Dander

    Pet dander is made up of shed animal skin cells and dried saliva. It is extremely lightweight and tiny (approximately 2.5 microns in size) and can stay airborne for hours before settling on surfaces. Pet dander can be problematic for people sensitive to pet dander. If they are allergic to dander, it can worsen breathing problems.

  • Pollen

    Pollen is made up of light, dry protein particles from trees, grasses, flowers and weeds. It is carried by the wind and can a potent stimulator of allergic reactions.

  • Radon

    Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that seeps up from the earth. It is created by the natural decay of uranium in the earth, and exists naturally in many locations. Radon may present a serious health risk when it accumulates in basements or crawl spaces beneath homes.

S - W

  • Sediment

    Sediment is solid material that settles to the bottom of a liquid. In unfiltered tap water, sediment can be composed of soil, silt, sand and minerals.

  • Smog

    Smog is the most visible form of air pollution. It is a brownish-yellow, hazy cloud caused when heat and sunlight react with various pollutants emitted from industry, cars, pesticides and oil-based home products. The word "smog" is a combination of the words smoke and fog.

  • Smoke

    Smoke can be generated by cigarettes, cigars, wood burning stoves and fireplaces. In addition to several known carcinogens, smoke can contain fine particles composed of wood tars, gases, soot and ashes. While it can cause the typical allergic reaction like sneezing and runny nose, exposure to smoke can also cause burning eyes, bronchitis and even trigger asthma attacks to people who are sensitive.

  • Virus

    A virus requires host cells to survive. Once inside our cells, viruses can cause diseases. Like bacteria, viruses can be found nearly everywhere—particularly in modern, tightly sealed homes. Airborne particles in your indoor air can carry viruses from place to place, and from person to person.

  • Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)

    A VOC is a compound that vaporizes at room temperature. Common sources that may emit VOCs into indoor air include cleaning and maintenance products, and building and furniture materials. In sufficient quantities, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritations, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders and memory impairment.

    Some VOCs are known to cause cancer in animals, and some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans. At present, not much is known about what health effects occur at the levels of VOCs typically found in public and commercial buildings

  • Whole House Water Filtration

    Whole house water filtration filters incoming water throughout your home. The system is connected to your main water line (often found in your basement) and helps protect your appliances, showers and drinking water from sand, sediment, rust and soil buildup. With an upgrade to standard level filtration, the system can also reduce chlorine taste and odor. Two types of systems are available: traditional sump style with regular 3-6 month filter replacements and quick-change with easy, no mess 12-month filter replacements.