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Glossary of Commonly Encountered Terms

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asthma - an immediate hypersensitivity (allergy) resulting in respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and a feeling of constriction within the chest or bronchial airways


bacteria - microorganisms with prokaryotic cell organization (lacking membrane-bounded nucleus and other specialized features); bacteria are also typically much smaller than fungi (molds)

bioaerosol - an airborne dispersion of particles containing whole or parts of biological entities, such as bacteria, viruses, dust mites, fungal hyphae, or fungal spores

bronchitis - an inflammation of the bronchi (lung airways), resulting in persistent cough that produces consideration quantities of sputum (phlegm)

BRI - building-related illness: a recognized disease that can be attributed to airborne building bioaerosols or chemical pollutants


dew point - the temperature at which water would condense from the air if the air mass were cooled. In general, when the relative humidity is high, the dew point will be close to the air temperature. At 100% relative humidity, the dew point is equal to the air temperature. When the relative humidity is low, the dew point is much lower than the air temperature.


HVAC - Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning

HEPA filter - High Efficiency Particulate Air filters that have been tested to assure removal of 99.9% of particles 0.3 m in size. Another benefit of a HEPA air filtration system is that it can remove harmful V.O.C.'s (Volatile Organic Compounds) which are gases that come from house-hold chemicals and synthetic materials.
HEPA filters are highly recommended for allergy sufferers. HEPA filters collect the airborne dust and dander including dust mites rather than just pushing the air around the room as an ionizer does. Many filtration systems that don't have HEPA filters leave the toxic elements trapped in the room and eventually they become airborne again. The idea is to remove the dust from your home, not simply move it from here to there.


relative humidity - an expression of how much moisture is in the air as a percentage of the total moisture the air can contain at the current temperature. For example, if the air has all the water vapor that it can contain at a given temperature, the relative humidity is 100%; if the air has only half of the vapor that it can contain at a given temperature, the relative humidity is 50%.


sterilization - the removal or destruction of all microorganisms, including pathogenic and other bacteria, vegetative forms and spores

See the complete glossary

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