Air Purifier for Indoor Odor Control

indoor odorsThere are a countless number of things that can give off odors into the indoor environment. Some of them are building materials, furnishings, carpeting, ventilation systems, and people.



Common Causes of Indoor Odor

  • Mold or mildew growth: This may give off musty odors, which are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by the mold. The specific VOCs released are dependent on the type of mold and material it is growing on. Most microbially produced VOCs have very low odor thresholds. Smells are characterized as pungent, wet-damp, musty, mushroomy, or dirty. These microbial VOCs can be measured even though mold cannot be seen. Finding those mold specific VOCs is an indicator of mold growth.
  • Odors from organic solvents: These could come from things like newly painted materials, furniture, vinyl or hardwood floors, and cleaners.
  • An odor resembling that of rotten eggs: This could be sewer gas seeping into the building from a dry odor trap underneath the floor or sink, and/or excessive negative pressure within the building allowing sewer gas to enter the building.
  • Personal care products: Almost 15 percent to 20 percent of North Americans have some breathing problems that are made worse by strong odors from scented products such as perfume or after-shaves. Strongly scented products can also trigger migraine headaches.
  • Ozone and VOCs such as styrene and other aromatic hydrocarbons also cause odor. Carbonless copy paper, transparencies, and labels result in additional odors.
  • New Materials: Furnishings and construction materials can have odors associated with formaldehyde and VOCs. Common products with odorous chemicals include:
Material Chemical
New carpet 4-phenylcyclohexane
New woods Butyric acid
Fiber glass Trimethylamine
Permanent press textiles Formaldehyde
Vinyl wallcovering Methyl isobutyl ketone and styrene
Plastics and resins Phenols
Floor leveler Phenoxyethanol and phenol
Cleaner Butoxyethanol and limonene



Tips for Minimizing Odors

  • Choose materials that have no or low odor levels. Know that there is a difference between scent-free and unscented. Some industrial products that call themselves scent-free may have more VOCs in them in order to mask their naturally offensive smell than unscented products.
  • Keep temperatures between 68°F and 78°F, and humidity levels between 40 percent and 60 percent, and use enough fresh air. Research shows that the higher the air temperature, the lower the acceptability of air quality and the more intense people perceive odors.
  • Keep things clean and throw out garbage.
  • Do not use air fresheners or deodorizer products to mask other odors since they introduce additional VOCs and odors that may cause allergic and irritant reactions in susceptible populations.
  • Keep materials and building clean and dry, and prevent mold growth.
  • Keep water in sink and floor traps.
  • Air out new furnishings and materials before using them or bringing them into a home or building.
  • Identifying the cause of your odor and using either an air purifier or a dehumidifier to improve your indoor air quality.

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