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HHI Identifies Top 3 Healthy Home Scams

By HHI Staff

The Healthy House Institute® online educational center has released its Top 3 Healthy Home Scams . These include:


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1.   The Air Quality Scam

This includes claims that a product, such as an air purifier, protects indoor air quality by eliminating a contaminant, such as dust or pollen.

This is misleading because air is a complex, dynamic “fluid” containing hundreds or thousands of substances – particles and gases – mixed together, and just eliminating particles (e.g., airborne dust, pollen or mold fragments) from air passing through the purifier does not necessarily mean indoor air is healthier, as it may still contain unwanted elements.

With regard to what a filter does remove from the air, look for the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) that tells how much air is being filtered. Air cleaners or purifiers need to be sized for rooms they are in, because a small unit may not be moving enough air or removing enough particles to make any difference in air quality. 

Remember, removing particles does not usually affect gases or VOCs that require a different type of filter media (e.g., adsorption filters such as activated carbon or charcoal).

2.   The VOC Scam

Claims for air purifiers with adsorption filters “eliminating VOCs” or products being “low-VOC” are misleading for similar reasons.

VOC claims for air purifiers

“Cherry-picking” claims for particular VOC removal, does not mean other VOCs (perhaps more harmful ones) are filtered out using a particular air purifier model.

Right-size air cleaners for rooms they are in, because a small unit may not be moving enough air or removing enough VOCs to make a difference in air quality.

Look for the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) that tells how much air is filtered, and which pollutants. Note also how often the filter needs changing.

VOC claims for products

Claims for “low-VOC” products are everywhere, but be careful because manufacturers can mislead when stating VOC-ingredient levels and VOC-content versus VOC-outgassing levels (what a product contains versus what it releases).

For example, a product may be low in certain VOCs but high in others, or a product may have low VOCs compared to other offerings but still outgas an unhealthy amount.

One rule of thumb is that if a product has an odor, it is off gassing something.

Remember, some VOCs are odorless, so do your homework, especially if you are sensitive to chemicals in indoor air.

Good ventilation usually helps if there is a source of fresh air.

3.   The Green Cleaning Scam

Green cleaning scams today are fewer because certifying bodies exist (such as Green Seal, UL Environment, etc.) that help separate green products from good “paint jobs”.

Remember, if a product has a fragrance, it is polluting the air.

Even “green formulas” may contain harmful chemistries, just less harmful.

Be careful and informed, use good ventilation, minimize chemicals – green or otherwise – and adopt a prevention rather than removal strategy (e.g., install large entry mats to keep harmful matter out, use water and microfiber, water-based interventions such as dry steam vapor, etc.)


HHI Error Correction Policy

HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

HHI Identifies Top 3 Healthy Home Scams:  Created on March 2nd, 2015.  Last Modified on June 23rd, 2015


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