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Product Review 1: Hepa Vacuum Cleaners

Why are You Breathing Dirty vacuum cleaner Air? Selecting a Clean-Air Vacuum Isn’t so Easy – Nov. 2000

WESTFIELD: “The average vacuum cleaner spews so many pollutants back into the air,” reports Keith Petersen of The Eardly T. Petersen Company, “that, from a health (environmental) standpoint, it almost makes sense for many homeowners not to vacuum their house. Testing done in the last year or so on a sampling of eleven popular vacuums by different manufacturers graphically shows that such machines are emitting millions of microscopic, respirable particles per minute – irrespective of manufacturers’ filtering claims.” How can this be?

Mr. Petersen states, “To effectively control emissions from a vacuum cleaner, it is vital that the housings and chambers are designed and made to airtight tolerances. In other words, a vacuum cleaner must have a completely sealed system for proper emission control. Of course, a high-quality filter is necessary; but, without a sealed system the filter is almost useless since these pollutants are being forced out everywhere on the vacuum. It makes sense, doesn’t it? To engineer an airtight vacuum, the manufacturer must be critically concerned about emissions – they must be focused on the overall quality of their product. While most manufacturers pay lip service to allergen-control features, the reality as shown in the statistics is that the great majority of these vacuums are so poorly designed and constructed that, while operating, they are, literally, filling the air with millions of LDPs (LungDamagingParticles) every minute. Since the time spent in vacuuming the average home in this country is about an hour a week, stop for a moment – do the math – and consider the tremendous amount of indoor-air pollutants being put back into the house air week after week – pollutants that are then being breathed deep into the lung sacs.”

Mr. Petersen continues, “Think about the effect such pollutants have when inhaled in this way. When you consider that the EPA ranks indoor air pollution among the top five environmental health concerns in the USA, you can understand why it is necessary to use a vacuum cleaner that both cleans effectively and also retains LDPs.” Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services in this country says, “Today in the United States we are confronting an epidemic of asthma. Each year asthma …… is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $11 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.”

“This is a staggering figure,” says Mr. Petersen. The EPA website ( states the following: These fine particles are so small that several thousand of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence. They are of health concern because they easily reach the deepest recesses of the lungs. Batteries of scientific studies have linked particulate matter, especially fine particles (alone or in combination with other air pollutants), with a series of significant health problems, including:

Premature death;

Respiratory related hospital admissions and emergency room visits;

Aggravated asthma;

Acute respiratory symptoms, including aggravated coughing and difficult or painful breathing;

Chronic bronchitis;

Decreased lung function that can be experienced as shortness of breath; and

Work and school absences

“Children are at the greatest risk,” cautions Mr. Petersen. “The average adult breathes 13,000 liters of air per day; children breathe 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults. Children make up 25% of the population, but comprise 40% of all asthma cases.”

“So,” concludes Mr. Petersen, “a good-quality vacuum is of utmost importance if you are concerned about the health of the home and the family. Organizations like the Environmental Protectection Agency (EPA), the American Lung Association (ALA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have adopted or are adopting “Clean for Health” policies. There are only a handful of vacuums today that will provide you the necessary control of these millions of tiny, damaging pollutants. One German manufacturer – Miele – actually makes a vacuum that retains these critical, tiny pollutants so well that their machines are now rated just a step behind the rating required for equipment used in Nuclear Bio- Hazardous Waste facilities. Now, that’s a vacuum cleaner!”

For questions on vacuum cleaners or other, allergen-control products, contact The Eardly T. Petersen Company at 908-232-5723 or e-mail them at