Room-air purifier may help allergies

I don't usually test products for more than a week, but I decided to give the Holmes HEPA room-air purifier several weeks before I wrote about it.

Why? Indoor air quality. You can buy a dream house, but if it doesn't breathe properly, you've wasted a lot of money and are probably making yourself sick to boot.

We have a whole-house air cleaner. I attribute to it a reduction in allergy suffering as well as our new ability to grow indoor plants during the late fall and winter.

But the whole-house cleaner works in concert with the heating and air-conditioning systems, and thanks to a drippy and cool spring that hasn't demanded either system, the cleaner has been off.

On sunny days, I open the skylights and windows in the second-floor master bedroom to get the air circulating and keep the area cool. But pollen fills the space through the openings during the day, and sends us running for the Claritin so we can sleep at night.

The people at the Holmes Group wanted me to try out the Harmony HEPA air purifier, designed for a room about 14 by 11 feet - a bit bigger than our sleeping area.

The high-efficiency particulate air filter in the Harmony is made of tightly woven fibers designed to remove 99.97% of all airborne particles 0.3 microns or larger.

The Harmony draws contaminated air (dust, pollen, pet dander and mold) through the filter, then distributes clean filtered air in the room.

On days I knew it would be sunny and I was working from home, I'd open the windows from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Then I closed all the openings and turned on the Harmony to make sure that the air was cleaned by 11 p.m.

Since May and early June were so rainy, I was able to conduct the experiment for only nine days.

Fortunately, there was one windy day in which yellow dust from trees covered the screens on the skylight and the windows, so I knew there was pollen getting in.

The only control for this experiment was the two or three days in which I left the windows open all day and we didn't use the filter. The allergies were murder those days.

I'm no scientist, but it appears as if the Harmony did what it was supposed to do.

Soon the central air - and the whole-house filter - will go on. But, if you don't have one, a room air purifier might fit your needs.