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Part 1: IAQ Terminology. What Does It All Mean?

Author: David Ferguson, Sales Application Engineer

The indoor air quality marketplace has been flooded with solutions to address the immediate and urgent need to make our facilities safer and healthier.  Terms like CFM, UV-C, HEPA, Ionization, and CADR have become common in our new vernacular.  But what do these terms mean?  With hundreds of air purifiers to choose from, which one is best for you? And with so many claims made by manufacturers, which ones are true? Is there a difference between a consumer-grade air purifier and a commercial-grade air protection system?  These are the questions facing each of us today as we try to navigate the ever-changing world of indoor air quality (IAQ).  Air Rover’s goal is to help you learn the fundamentals of clean air which will empower you to make the best choice possible for your organization. 

First let us take a closer look at the most common IAQ terms.

  • CFM: Cubic Feet per Minute.  This generally refers to the air speed of the machine you are using.  The higher the CFM, the more air the machine moves.  The volume of air moved by the machine helps determine how much space it can cover and how quickly the air is cleaned.
  • UV-C Light: Ultraviolet Light (C Spectrum). There is a very specific UV-C light frequency (254 nm) that is proven extremely effective at inactivating viruses and other airborne pathogens.
  • HEPA Filter: High Efficiency Particulate Air filters.  These filters are efficient at removing 99.97% of particulates from the air that are 0.3 microns in size or larger.
  • Bi-polar Ionization: This technology introduces millions of tiny charged ions into a space that will attach themselves to airborne pathogens and remove them from the air. Many ionization products generate ozone and some release other harmful biproducts.
  • CADR: Clean Air Delivery Rate.  This term is a measure of how much clean air (at least 99% efficacy) is produced by a machine in a given period of time.  It is typically expressed in CFM. (Example: 200 cfm CADR means a machine produces 99% clean air at a rate of 200 cubic feet per minute)

Let’s see how these terms can help you decide which machine will best meet your IAQ needs.

Indoor spaces are unique and only a tailored approach will achieve the highest level of air quality. To make the right decision, you need to know a few details about the space you are dealing with.

  • Size of the Space: Square footage of the room plus the height of the ceiling
  • Occupancy: Determine whether the area has a high turnover rate of people or if the occupancy is stagnant. Classrooms, restaurants, and fitness centers generally have a higher turnover rate of occupancy. An office building generally has a fairly stagnant occupancy.
  • IAQ Goals: Are you trying to reduce person-to-person spread or do you need to create an isolation space?

We hope you find this information helpful.  Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll discuss what makes the Air Protection Systems (APS) an ideal choice for your commercial or business setting.  We’ll also explain common pitfalls of consumer-grade purifiers, which can lead to a false sense of security and do more harm than good.  If you have questions about our air purification products, please call (903) 877-3430 today to speak with one of our IAQ specialists.  You can also email us at