Utah Pulmonologist’s Research Shows Indoor Air Filters Can Cut Pollution In Half

Sep 25, 2018, 10:21 PM | Updated: Oct 16, 2018, 9:23 pm

MURRAY, Utah – The past few weeks, Utahns have breathed in some of the worst air emitted by wildfires in years. The smoke is just as dangerous for our lungs as our winter pollution. But, new research from a pulmonologist at Intermountain Medical Center shows standalone indoor air filters can cut the pollution in half.

Outdoor air pollution dirties the air we breathe inside, too. But, do indoor air filters make enough of a difference to make the investment?

“Every winter, my patients would come in complaining of worse symptoms during inversions,” said Dr. Denitza Blagev, a pulmonologist at Intermountain Medical Center, and principal investigator on the study.

Dr. Denitza Blagev, a pulmonologist at Intermountain Medical Center, and principal investigator on the study.

And, every winter Dr. Blagev wanted to offer some relief.

“We would have people asking, ‘what can we do, what can people do to try to protect themselves from this?’”

But, the pulmonologist was hesitant to recommend high-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA filters, without the science to back it up.

“Does it make enough of a difference?” She wanted to know.

For the study, researchers put $300 HEPA air filters in 52 homes of enrolled patients with respiratory problems. After monitoring air quality for 12 weeks during the last two winters, Dr. Blagev and her research team had their answer.

“Yes. Having a high-efficiency, HEPA filter does remove particulates significantly,” she said.

Those fine particulates are the most dangerous for our lungs, she said, PM 2.5.

“Those are significantly reduced when you have the HEPA filter on, versus not,” she said.

The filter reduced fine particulate matter 55 percent. It cut the pollution outside coming inside by 23 percent.

“It was really validating to be able to see how much air pollution is really cleaned up by these filters,” said Dr. Blagev.

She presented the study Sept. 16 at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress in Paris.

“People were excited about the results,” she said.

Each household can weigh whether the expense of the filter is worth it. Blagev suggests respiratory patients, or families with newborns, might find the filters most valuable. But, she points out; we all breathe the same pollution.

“It gives people an option of something they could do to really reduce their risk of air pollution exposure,” she said. “Usually, a filter of that size is really only going to be able to filter out the one room that it’s in.”

But, we spend about a third of our lives breathing air in the bedroom. That’s why it’s also important to regularly change the filter on your home heater, and eliminate wood and cigarette smoke from your home, she said.

“Those are simple things that you could avoid doing that would really improve things,” said Dr. Blagev.

Air filters are only bandages for the bigger problem, she said. Everyone should try to improve the overall outdoor air quality in their communities.

Researchers are still gathering data for the second part of the study which will measure whether the reduction in pollution actually makes the patients feel better.

“Our next steps will be to look at whether the HEPA filter cleans the indoor air enough to help alleviate symptoms in patients with COPD or asthma during poor air quality days,” said Dr. Blagev. “We often encourage our patients with respiratory illnesses to stay indoors on days when PM 2.5 is high outdoors, but we hope to identify ways to help improve the indoor air quality and relieve symptoms in our patients, which will protect our lungs from dangerous air pollutants.”

The study was funded by the Intermountain Research and Medical Foundation. The Intermountain Medical Center research team includes: Daniel Bride, Danielle Babbel, and Benjamin Horne, PhD, and Daniel Mendoza, PhD, from the University of Utah.

KSL 5 TV Live


File - The OpenAI logo appears on a mobile phone in front of a screen showing part of the company w...


Europe’s world-leading artificial intelligence rules are facing a do-or-die moment

Hailed as a world first, European Union artificial intelligence rules are facing a make-or-break moment as negotiators try to hammer out the final details this week — talks complicated by the sudden rise of generative AI that produces human-like work.

16 hours ago

Members of the Miami Arts Studio mental health club, including from left, Salet Aquino, Dominique R...

Jocelyn Gecker, Associated Press

Lacking counselors, US schools turn to the booming business of online therapy

Trouble with playground bullies started for Maria Ishoo’s daughter in elementary school. Girls ganged up, calling her “fat” and “ugly.” Boys tripped and pushed her.

2 days ago

A long-time and well-known firefighter in Utah, Fitzgerald Petersen, has died after a battle with c...

Pat Reavy

Beloved Utah firefighter dies after battle with cancer

A long-time Utah firefighter, beloved by many across the state, passed away Friday after battling cancer.

2 days ago

Matt Evans hugs Wendy Stapley, the living donor coordinator for Intermountain Health, after a press...

Emily Ashcraft

Intermountain Medical Center ranks first for well-matched kidney donations this year

A perfect kidney match can be hard to find, but Matt Evans' wife Cathy was able to get a kidney that was a perfect match for her transplanted on Tuesday because of the National Kidney Registry and its paired exchange program.

3 days ago

Julianna Preece goes through the mountain of medical documents she's acquired for her health condit...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Herriman couple is suing CVS, says 5x Covid vaccine dose mistake caused health problems

A couple is suing a Utah CVS vaccination clinic, saying a nurse’s mistake led to the wife receiving five times the normal COVID-19 vaccine dose and caused serious health issues she’s still dealing with today.

3 days ago

On the one-year anniversary of his heart attack, Morgan Daines and Dr. O'Neal rode up Wolf Creek Pa...

Emma Benson

Don’t wait: heart attack rapid response saves life of Utah dad

If you or a loved one were to experience a heart attack, time becomes a matter of life or death. KSL's Emma Benson shows us how a collaborative program at Intermountain Medical Center saved the life of an otherwise healthy patient.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Utah Pulmonologist’s Research Shows Indoor Air Filters Can Cut Pollution In Half