A Tale of Two Cities: NYC vs. L.A. – Pilot Study Indicates Nasty Pollutants in Families’ Home Air

Environmental health experts indicate families may have been breathing in mouse allergens, lead, fungal spores, insect parts, and diesel exhaust.

 Most families don’t think about what contaminants could be lurking in their indoor air, so environmental health experts put two average homes to the test as part of a new pilot study.  Two families – one in New York and one in suburban Los Angeles – were asked to run an air purifier in their homes for two consecutive months and then send the air filters to a team of microbiologists for initial testing.  The families were alarmed by the preliminary results that indicated what was floating in their air – from insect parts to heavy metals such as lead.


Interestingly, the New York home had higher levels of mouse allergens and black carbon from diesel engines, whereas pollen and skin cells were more abundant in the Los Angeles home.  The pilot study, which was underwritten by Kaz USA, Inc. and executed by Environmental Health & Engineering, used the Honeywell AirGenius Air Cleaner to capture airborne particles.

“Most Americans don’t realize that indoor air can be far more polluted than outdoor air.  In fact, the EPA states it can be 2-5 times more polluted.  In order to be energy efficient, most homes don’t allow for a lot of air ventilation which means many pollutants that exist indoors get trapped and held there,” said Dr. Ted Myatt, ScD, senior scientist at Environmental Health & Engineering and director of Research Compliance at University of Rhode Island.  “The preliminary findings of heavy metals and black carbon on the air filters are interesting because this means the air purifier is capable of capturing these pollutants from the air and therefore potentially reducing exposures in the home.  These types of trace metals often come from fossil fuels and exhaust that we bring inside or aerosol paints, printer laser ink jets, nail polish, home cleaning detergents and various wood finish applicants that we have used in the home.”

New York home had higher levels of mouse allergens and black carbon from diesel engines whereas pollen and skin cells were more abundant in the Los Angeles home.
Image credit: home.howstuffworks.com

Based on preliminary results from both homes, the following airborne pollutants were captured by the air purifier’s pre-filter and proprietary QuietClean® ifD® filtration system:

  • Black carbon – emission sources include diesel engines, vehicles, and residential heating.
  • Heavy metals – trace metals include aluminum, chromium, nickel, tin and lead, a known neurotoxin. Sources often include paints and coatings, printer laser ink jets, nail polish, motor oil, home cleaning detergents, fossil fuels or exhaust.
  • Mouse and dog allergens – particles include dander from rodents and family pets.
  • Dust contaminants – particles include hair follicles and epithelial (skin) cells from humans and insect parts.
  • Fungal spores – Examples of fungal spores typically found indoors include Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Ulocladium and Alternaria.
  • Pollen – particles that typically make their way inside through open windows or on clothes and shoes.

For a full list of pollutants discovered as part of the initial results, and to review the full-text pilot study, visit:  www.HoneywellCleanAir.com/TwoCities.


The Honeywell AirGenius Air Cleaner was placed in the main living area in each home and run constantly over the course of a two-month period (July – August 2012). The homes were located in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  Both homes met the same criteria of the number of people living in the home (four), family pets (one cat or dog) and home square footage.  Each family classified itself as non-smoking, bi-weekly household cleaners and regular kitchen users.  Both residences ran central air conditioning during the test period.

About EH&E

EH&E (http://www.eheinc.com) has provided an extensive range of environmental and engineering consulting services for over 20 years. The EH&E team consists of more than 70 experts with an outstanding record of providing solutions for issues that affect the environment. EH&E has a depth of knowledge and credibility unmatched in the industry.

About Kaz

A world leader in high quality healthcare and home environment products, Kaz is a state of the art, dynamically-managed, global leader in healthcare devices, home comfort and water filtration products that operates in over 65 countries on six continents with a brand portfolio that includes PUR, Vicks, Honeywell, Braun, SoftHeat, SmartTemp, and more.  Kaz is a global marketer of humidifiers, air purifiers, heaters and fans under the Honeywell brand.  The Honeywell trademark is used by Kaz USA, Inc. under license from Honeywell International Inc. Kaz USA, Inc is a wholly owned subsidiary of Helen of Troy Limited (NASDAQ: HELE).  For more information about Helen of Troy Limited, please visit www.hotus.com. For information on other quality products for home health, home comfort, water filtration and insect control visit www.kaz.com.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s