What Are the Health Benefits of Better Air Filtration for Canadians?

Canadians spend most of our time indoors and although we are becoming more aware of the importance of clean air in public spaces, did you know that clean indoor air can also have long term positive health benefits in several areas such as improving gut health and boosting your immune system, improving your heart health, and even giving you a better quality of life along with a longer life? In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the health risks of poor indoor air quality as well as the benefits good air quality can have on human health. 

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The importance of indoor air quality

There is growing evidence that better indoor air quality, be it in your workplace or your home, leads to a better, more productive and longer life. Over the past five years, there have been more studies undertaken comparing people who spent time in buildings with cleaner air with those subjected to polluted air. These studies show that better indoor air quality (IAQ) can be just as important as a good diet and exercise. IAQ is important for good cardiovascular health, to reduce asthmatic and allergic triggers in the air, to improve cognitive function of workers and students in offices and other workplaces, and schools. The best way to improve indoor air quality is to choose a high-quality air filtration system.

Common indoor air pollutants, their sources, and effects on health

Studies on the effects of poor indoor air quality on the human immune system

It’s important to limit exposure to air pollution when we’re outside, but we should also be aware of the fact that pollution can easily enter our homes, schools, and workplaces. To reduce exposure to harmful particles, it’s crucial to have a good-quality air filtration system.

According to an article published in Nature Medicine, air pollution can have a negative impact on the human immune system. The article states, “Inhaled particulates from environmental pollutants accumulate in macrophages in lung-associated lymph nodes over years, directly affecting immune cell function and lymphoid architecture. The macrophages containing particulates were significantly impaired: they were much less capable of ingesting other particles and producing cytokines—chemical ‘help’ signals—that activate other parts of the immune system.” However, the study found, “Macrophages in those same lymph nodes that did not contain particulates were unimpaired.”

Exposure to excess particulates can lead to increased risk of cancer, autoimmune disorders, and death from serious infection. Elderly people are especially vulnerable to respiratory infections. Source: Effect of air pollution on the human immune system, doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-02093-7.

Another study found, “Exposure to pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, PM 2.5, black carbon, airborne copper, isophorone, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have been linked to impairments in working memory, general cognitive functions, psychomotor functions, verbal and nonverbal intelligence, attention, processing speed, fine motor skills, and mathematical skills.” Source: Lopuszanska, U., & Samardakiewicz, M. (2020). The Relationship Between Air Pollution and Cognitive Functions in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 33, 157-178.

Indoor air quality and gut health

Medical research suggests air pollution can alter the gut microbiota, leading to inflammation and increasing the risk of digestive tract diseases. “Pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and ozone may change the gut microbiota and contribute to a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes through inflammatory pathways.” Source: Bailey, Maximillian J et al. “Exposure to air pollutants and the gut microbiota: a potential link between exposure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.” Gut microbes vol. 11,5 (2020)

Positive effects of good indoor air quality 

How better indoor air quality can benefit your cardiovascular system

Good air quality can significantly benefit your cardiovascular system. According to the Cleveland Clinic, ”By filtering out fine particles, air purifiers help clean the air you breathe and lessen the potential negative effects of pollution. This can lead to improvements in respiratory health, particularly for conditions such as asthma.” Clean indoor air helps prevent respiratory conditions (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and pulmonary fibrosis), or reduce their severity.

  • Clean indoor air with less pollutants and allergens reduces the risk of respiratory illnesses which can strain the heart
  • Better air quality reduces concentrations of harmful chemicals and reduces risks for your heart
  • Along with good ventilation and humidity control, quality air filtration can remove mould and mildew spores from the air (mould is a trigger for cardiovascular disease)

Studies have shown improvements in blood pressure and a lower heart rate, after air cleaners were installed in buildings. It is believed that air cleaners improve blood chemistry which improves heart health. Source: Can Air Purifiers Improve Your Lung and Heart Health? health.clevelandclinic.org/can-air-purifiers-improve-lung-heart-health

Decreasing blood pressure with air filtration

Research indicates that lowering PM2.5 exposure causes blood pressure (BP) to drop within a few days. Using a meta-analysis of 10 studies, researchers found, “There were consistent effects (lower BP) across all ages (college students to elderly), locations, and durations.“ Source: J Hum Hypertens. 2020 Nov; 34(11): 759–763 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc

A study showed that, “Air purification was significantly associated with decreases in geometric means of several circulating inflammatory and thrombogenic biomarkers…Furthermore, systolic BP, diastolic BP, and fractional exhaled nitrous oxide were significantly decreased by 2.7%, 4.8%, and 17.0% in geometric mean, respectively.” Source: J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 Jun, 65 (21) 2279–2287 Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Overall, prioritizing good indoor air quality and eliminating contaminants can contribute to a healthier heart, a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, and better quality of life.

Air quality and cognitive function

A Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health study indicates that workplace air quality significantly impacts cognitive performance, productivity, and brain function. The results show a connection between elevated PM2.5 levels and sudden declines in cognitive function. Source: Jose Guillermo Cedeño Laurent et al 2021 www.hsph.harvard.edu

Harvard Professor Joseph Allen in a study found, “Breathing better air led to significantly better decision-making performance…We saw higher test scores across nine cognitive function domains when workers were exposed to increased ventilation rates, lower levels of chemicals, and lower carbon dioxide. The results showed the biggest improvements in areas that tested how workers used information to make strategic decisions…” Source: Stale Office Air Is Making You Less Productive, Joseph G. Allen March 21, 2017 hbr.org Harvard Business Review

Pollution has a negative impact on cognitive functions, brain structure, and connectivity. Therefore, reducing air pollution indoors is crucial for optimal cognitive and brain development. Source: V Shier, Population and Environment: Ambient Air Pollution and Children’s Cognitive Outcomes

How air good air filtration improves sleep quality

Air filters improve sleep quality by removing pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and mould spores from the air. These particles trigger allergies, cause breathing congestion, asthma symptoms, discomfort and respiratory issues. Studies have shown that not only does good air filtration create a more relaxing environment with less sleep disruptions, it also improves restorative sleep experience.

Indoor air pollutants and their sources: 

Radon: all homes in Canada have some Radon gas. It comes from uranium and other minerals that contain radium underground. According to Health Canada, 3200 deaths per year are attributed to radon-induced lung cancer. NIH states, “Although radon is chemically inert and electrically uncharged, it is radioactive, which means that radon atoms in the air can spontaneously decay, or change to other atoms. When the resulting atoms, called radon progeny, are formed, they are electrically charged and can attach themselves to tiny dust particles in indoor air. These dust particles can easily be inhaled into the lung and can adhere to the lining of the lung.”

Secondhand smoke: it is inhaled by non-smokers and contains formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic ammonia and hydrogen cyanide and can cause a variety of cancers and lung diseases. The CDC says, “Secondhand smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children.”

Asbestos: from paint and insulation mostly in older homes and buildings. It can lead to Asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma observed mostly in workers who work with asbestos; miners, processors, manufacturers, construction workers, mechanics, etc. Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety  

Arsenic: It is predominately attached to particulate matter. Sources come from burning waste wood in construction. Some forms of arsenic contain silica and chromium

Formaldehyde: is released when fossil fuels are burned. Tobacco smoke also releases formaldehyde.

Pollen: from grass, weeds, and trees. It causes hay fever and asthma. Pollen peaks in Canada in the spring, mid-June, and in the fall.

Mould: from flooding, leaks in roofs, leaks in basements and plumping, buildings that don’t allow moisture to escape. Mould spores can cause DNA damage, kidney damage, DNA/RNA mutations, growth impairment in children, gene modifications, and immune impairment according to NIH. 

Crystalline silica: silica is released into the air during processes like grinding, crushing objects, drilling, and sanding. It can be inhaled deep into the lungs. It is present in mining, manufacturing, abrasive blasting, foundation work, hydraulic fracturing, stone cutting, rock drilling, construction, oil and gas extraction, and in dentistry.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): gasses emitted from thousands of products, such as paints, varnishes, cleaning products, disinfectants, furniture, walls, office supplies, and pesticides. They can cause short and long-term health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, liver and kidney damage, coordination problems, cancers, and central nervous system damage. Concentrations indoors can be up to ten times higher than outdoors.

Carbon dioxide (CO2): from building occupants and fuels, oil furnaces and heaters. High concentrations can affect respiratory function and can be dangerous.

Carbon monoxide: from vehicle exhaust fumes and brush fires, charcoal and gas heaters, and wood stoves. Inhalation is extremely toxic, as it can cause permanent damage to the brain and heart.

Particulate matter, PM2.5, PM1: from vehicles, power plants, industrial processes, chemical reactions from combustion, industrial processes, dust from paved roads, and many other sources. Excess exposure can cause premature mortality, heart and lung diseases, asthma attacks, and acute bronchitis. Even short-term exposure can cause health problems.

Lead: gets into the air from ore and metals processing and some aviation fuel, incinerators, lead-acid battery production. Exposure to lead can cause harm to the nervous system, immune system, kidneys, reproductive and cardiovascular health.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2): forms when fossil fuels are burned at high temperatures, during food manufacturing, and welding. NO2 can cause chronic lung disease. It may also affect human senses.  

Pesticides: from food production, landscaping, and forestry. Can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, can harm kidneys and the nervous system. Exposure to airbourne pesticides can increase the risk of cancer.  

Ozone: from nitrogen oxide gases and hydrocarbons. Make sure your air cleaner does not produce any. It can cause congestion, throat irritation, reduced lung function, and can worsen respiratory problems.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH) states that Long-term exposure to these pollutants can increase the chance of developing lung cancer.

Pet dander: can cause allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, and asthma attacks. 

CCOHS Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, EPA, CDC

Sources: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety 

High-quality air filtration can increase longevity, improve quality of life

Air filters can contribute to a longer human lifespan by improving the quality of the air we breathe. 

Here’s how:

Lowering Risk of Diseases: Reduced exposure to airborne pollutants is associated with a decreased incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and lung diseases. By filtering out pollutants, air filters can lower the risk of these diseases, helping to extend lifespan.

Cleaner air can lead to a longer life: A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that cleaner air could lead to a longer life. Another study suggested that poor outdoor and indoor air quality can cut 1.5 years from the average lifespan. harvardmagazine.com/2009/05/clean-air-longer-life, J.S. Apte et al. Ambient PM2.5 reduces global and regional life expectancy. 

Long-term Cost Savings

Investing in a good air filtration system can lead to long-term savings by reducing cardiovascular diseases and environmental diseases and in doing so, reducing healthcare costs and improving quality of life.

Also, high-quality air filters play a major role in reducing the amount of filter changes, saving energy, achieving high particle capture efficiency, allowing proper airflow, and increasing the lifespan of HVAC systems.

Where is Better Air Filtration most Needed?

High-quality air filtration is most needed in public spaces such as government offices, sports arenas, recreational facilities, homes, warehouses, food production facilities, hospitals and healthcare facilities, EV battery production plants, etc.

What challenges are there in different environments?

Camfil offers a wide range of air filtration devices that can be customized to meet your specific needs. The Air Filter Upgrade Selection Tool helps users choose the best filter based on their unique demands and the existing air filtration system. Camfil filters improve efficiency and lower energy usage in various applications, including general application filters, HEPA, and ULPA filters, high temperature filters, molecular filters, air cleaners, air purifiers, dust, fume, and mist collectors, air filter housings, frames, and louvres.

Camfil filters offer uniform pleat distance, minimal resistance, lower cost of ownership, and air bypass prevention. It increases productivity and reduces energy consumption in various air filtration applications, ensuring a high level of dust holding.

Why Choose Camfil Products?

Innovation and Efficiency:

When choosing a new air filter, it is important to remember that Camfil air filters are designed to offer minimal resistance and maximum dust loading, which improves airflow. The lifespan and potential energy savings of the filter are influenced by the media that is used in it as well as by its overall design. This prevents filter clogging, which increases the risk of coil freezing at any time of year and can lead to equipment failure. Another important consideration is the possibility of filters blowing out and becoming sucked into the air handling system, if they are low quality.

Longevity, cost savings, and High Performance:

Camfil products offer longevity and high efficiency, resulting in cost savings and consistent performance. Camfil air filters have a longer service life, reducing overall filter costs by over 26% annually. This longevity reduces filter changes frequency from quarterly to annually, sometimes even two years, saving time for building operators.

Camfil Products Overview

The Durafil ES3 is a compact V-Bed air filter designed for commercial and industrial use. Its unique media design uses proprietary glass fibre media, outperforming other V-Bed filters in capture efficiency. The filter consumes 35% less energy than other V-Bed filters and has the longest service life due to its high dirt holding capacity. The filter has a 5-star rating, ranking in the top 20% of similar products in the HVAC industry.

AP13SC is a MERV 13 pleated panel filter that is suitable for applications requiring a minimum efficiency of MERV 13 or as a prefilter in multi-stage systems. The filter’s high wet-strength beverage board frame creates a rigid and durable filter. It is available in all common sizes and in depths of 1″, 2″, and 4”  it can capture small particles such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. This makes it an effective solution for maintaining high indoor air quality

The Camfil AQ13 is a high-capacity pleated panel filter that meets MERV 13 requirements and has twice the service life of other MERV 13 pleats. Its unique blended media ensures high capture efficiency and extended service life. Its low-pressure drop makes it suitable for upgrading MERV 8 systems to MERV 13. It is ideal for single-stage air handling units requiring MERV 13 efficiency but not capable of holding deeper filters. Available in sizes 1″, 2″, and 4, it is suitable for most applications including challenging industrial environments.

Camfil HighFlo ES is a high-efficiency air filter with tapered pleats and pockets, offering the lowest average pressure drop in the industry. Its unique blended media provides maximum dust holding capacity and controlled media spacing. The filter can be used without a prefilter, reducing energy costs. Its long-lasting pocket style reduces changes and landfill waste. Available in MERV 11, 13, 14, and 15, the filter is rated a 5-Star product for superior performance, energy, and sustainability. It provides great protection ensuring a healthy indoor environment.

Camfil’s air filtration products effectively remove harmful particles and pollutants from the air, promoting better respiratory health and reducing allergies and respiratory illnesses. These durable, energy-efficient filters are designed to cater to the specific needs of different environments, making them the top choice for ensuring fresh and healthy air in Canada. Camfil is committed to sustainability, using environmentally friendly materials and minimizing waste during the manufacturing process.

To consult with an air filtration expert on the topics covered in this post or for further information, please use this contact form, and an air filtration expert from Camfil Canada will answer any questions you may have.

About Camfil Canada Clean Air Solutions

For more than 60 years, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. Read more about Camfil Canada



CCOHS Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, EPA, Health Canada, National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. (ASHRAE) 

National Institutes of Health (NIH) nih.gov

Lopuszanska, U., & Samardakiewicz, M. (2020). The Relationship Between Air Pollution and Cognitive Functions in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 33, 157-178.

Bailey, Maximillian J et al. “Exposure to air pollutants and the gut microbiota: a potential link between exposure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.” Gut microbes vol. 11,5 (2020)

Can Air Purifiers Improve Your Lung and Heart Health? health.clevelandclinic.org/can-air-purifiers-improve-lung-heart-health

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 Jun, 65 (21) 2279–2287 Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Jose Guillermo Cedeño Laurent et al 2021 www.hsph.harvard.edu

Stale Office Air Is Making You Less Productive, Joseph G. Allen March 21, 2017 hbr.org Harvard Business Review

Media Contact:

Phillip Ilijevski

Camfil Canada Inc.

T: 437-929-1161

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