Cabin air filters keep drivers breathing easier
By Ron Cox
Pollen. Mold spores. Dust. Exhaust gas-es. These are just some of the pollutants that can travel through a truck’s ventilation system and into its cabin—a problem that can be especially severe during the hot summer months.
Contaminants inside vehicle cabins can be up to six times more concentrated than outside. These microscopic particles can lead to allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. In fact, 50 million people in the U.S. alone have some sort of respiratory problem, and 20 percent of allergy patients are said to have problems with their allergies in vehicles.
One way to improve the quality of air drivers breathe while on the road is by using a cabin air filter. The right cabin air filter can:
• Remove irritating respirable particles like pollen, mold spores, dust and exhaust gases before they reach the breathing air inside the vehicle. (One study found that vehicles without cabin air filters have more than 40 percent greater concentrations of mold spores than vehicles without the filters.)
• Reduce dust accumulation to keep the vehicle’s interior cleaner.
• Reduce strain on heating and A/C systems to keep them running at peak performance.
A cabin air filter can only perform when it’s maintained correctly. For passenger vehicles, that means replacing the cabin air filter once a year, every 12,000-15,000 miles, or as directed by the vehicle’s service manual. Driving in heavy traffic, urban or dusty environments, or on dirt roads may shorten the filter’s life.
When cabin air filters are not regularly re-placed, the following may result:
• Musty odors inside the vehicle’s cabin due to fungus growth on the evaporator.
• Heater and air conditioner may become damaged by corrosion.
• Contaminant levels in the cabin may increase.
• Outside airflow drops dramatically in both heat and A/C modes.
• Heating and cooling efficiencies are reduced.
• Windows fog up easily in the fresh mode.
The filter media inside cabin air filters plays a crucial role in achieving good cabin air quality. Because not all cabin air filters are created equal, look for the following features when selecting a cabin air filter: electrostatically treated synthetic media for high filtration efficiency; low pressure drop; high dust-holding capacity; durability for long life; moisture resistance so that microbial growth is not supported; and thermally bonded continuous fibers to prevent fiber shedding.
Keep in mind that traditional particulate air filters are not effective at removing odors and gaseous contaminants. That’s why some cabin air filters feature activated carbon to adsorb odors and other gaseous molecules. Since activated carbon is one of the strongest physical adsorbents, it is an excellent material for removing odors and other gases from the air inside vehicles to create a fresh and clean-smelling environment.
Ron Cox is the market manager for Kimberly-Clark Filtration Products.