For anyone with allergies, asthma or respiratory problems, dust is a serious issue. Not only is dust abundant everywhere, it’s also constantly being generated. In other words, it’s an ongoing problem that has to be handled on a daily basis.
To find the best solutions and take the most effective preventative measures, you have to know what causes dust in homes so you can address the specific dust generators.
Causes of Dust in Homes
There’s a reason why dust is everywhere - it comes from a lot of different sources. A study from the Environmental Science & Technology Journal discovered 60% dust inside of homes comes in from the outside, but about 40% of it is generated indoors.
Indoor Causes of Dust in Homes
- People - Dead skin cells that shed are a common cause of dust.
- Fibrous Materials - Fibers in carpeting, furniture and clothes generate dust.
- Pets - Pets shed skin (pet dander) and create dust just like their human companions.
- Dust Mites - Dust mites also create dust by shedding.
Outdoor Causes of Dust in Homes
- Animals - Like your pets, animals outside also create a lot of dust.
- Plants - Plants are living organisms that can put off pollen and dust.
- Soil - Airborne particles from the soil can get indoors and cause dust.
The Local Environmental and Climate Can Cause Dust
It’s worth noting that dust is worse in some areas because of the local environment and climate. Regions that tend to be dry typically have higher levels of dust because dry conditions make it easier for soil particles to become airborne.
This same thing can happen in a region that isn’t typically dry if the area is experiencing extreme drought conditions.
Best Air Filter For a Dust Allergy
Dust is annoying for anyone, but if you have dust allergies it can make your home downright uncomfortable. Choosing the right kind of HVAC air filter can make a big difference in the amount of dust in your home.
Many people don’t put much thought into their home air filter - they simply go with something similar to what they already have when it’s time to replace the air filter. However, if you want to clear dust out of your home, you’ll need an efficient air filter that can trap large and small dust particles. That means the best air filter for your dust allergies is likely of a higher MERV rating than you are currently using.
How MERV Rating is Related to Dust Removal
Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) tell you how well an air filter clears particles out of the air. MERV ratings go from 1 to 20. The higher the rating is, the more filtration it provides. Higher ratings will both capture smaller particles than lower ratings, and higher ratings will more consistently capture particles of larger sizes.
Now you may think that an air filter with a MERV 20 rating will be the best air filter for dust, but that’s not commonly recommended. For starters, MERV 17-20 air filters are very expensive. They are also typically made for commercial HVAC systems because they are most often used in pharmaceutical plants, surgical centers and cleanrooms. Filters with that high of a MERV rating will break your home HVAC system because they will cause air flow issues.
The higher the MERV rating is, the thicker and more pleated the air filter is, and the thicker and more pleated an air filter is the more it restricts air flow. This can cause your HVAC system to work harder, which leads to higher energy bills and premature wear on the system.
Why a MERV 13 Air Filter is the Best Home Air Filter for Dust
For household use, a MERV 13 air filter offers the ideal balance of affordability, air purification and air flow. MERV 13 air filters trap and block 98% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. It not only traps small dust particles it can also clear smoke out of the air.
But a MERV 13 air filter still allows good air flow through the HVAC system so comfort isn’t sacrificed and the HVAC equipment isn’t compromised. On top of all of this, MERV 13 air filters have good longevity and can last up to three months before needing to be replaced.
If your system cannot handle a MERV 13 air filter, you can step down in quality rating and still get the benefit of dust control – a filter with a MERV rating of 8 or higher will do the trick. You can also use air purifiers for individual rooms to up the filtration efficiency.
READ MORE: All About MERV Ratings
Room Air Filter For Dust
Unfortunately, there’s no way to remove all the dust from a room just by filtering the air. Dust can still settle on surfaces, get into every crevice and make its way through an air filter on occasion.
So what can you do if you have allergies or asthma and want to get rid of as much dust as possible? If you need extra purification in a specific room, you can go one step further with a standalone air purifier unit.
There are thousands of portable air purifiers that can help, but the best room air filter for dust is a HEPA filter. Unlike home air filters for an HVAC system, highly efficient HEPA air filters work very well in a standalone air purifier.
A HEPA air filter traps 99.97% of particles in the air. Like the MERV 13 air filter, particles as small as 0.3 micron are trapped by a HEPA air filter. There is one thing to be mindful of though. There are true HEPA filters and HEPA-type air filters. The HEPA-type air filters are far less efficient.
Another important factor outside of the true HEPA air filter is max coverage. Portable air purifiers have a max coverage, which is calculated in square feet. Most air purifiers cover 200 to 1,500 square feet.
Beyond these two factors there are a lot of features that differentiate portable air purifiers. Some features are about aesthetics like custom color lighting and others, like timers, are more practical. As long as the air purifier has a true HEPA filter and covers the space needed the features are all about personal preference.
Read More: What is Indoor Air Pollution?