I am buying a new house and want to install a PHI, most likely an RGF Ait Guardian. I cannot seem to find a very affordable location to buy one of these directly and most of them I've found are more expensive than buying one from someone installed. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to purchase or possibly on an alternative brand? I appreciate you sharing your expertise.
-aaron in austin
ps. I tried to buy this system installed locally but have had problems, I won't go into details. If someone has a suggestion for an alternate system I would take that advice into advisement. I have an HVAC installer installing my new systems for me, but he doesn't do any PHI systems and told me to find one to then pay him to install.
Maybe no one knows what a PHI is.
Photo Hydro Ionization
They should cost between 900.00 to 1200.00 installed. What price were you finding?
Might want to read this before diving into a PHI Cell this was written by one of the members of this message board.
Test results purporting to show the effectiveness of the devices raise more questions than they answer.
In response to our questions concerning the effectiveness and safety of the RGF Photohydrionization (PHI) technology for use in air conditioning and heating equipment, we just received a "Validation Verification" produced by RGF regarding their system to be used for "indoor air and surface treatment." This was signed by James A. Hart, a chemical engineer employed by RGF and an attorney by the name of Sharon B. Rinehimer. It listed a number of tests and testimonials on their product. The purpose of the letter was to state that they have "reviewed and concur" with the results.
The Verification did not mention that James A. Hart was employed by RGF or whether or not there is a connection between Ms. Rinehimer and the company. RGF produces products for Shaklee and Ecoquest International (formerly Alpine) and many of the tests mentioned in this verification were conducted for these companies. We have done some additional research into these tests and have found out some interesting information.
The first test listed is from the California Microbiology Associates done by a Dr. Dee Graham. The test shows reductions in mold counts in air samples taken from two dwellings. The test protocol is suspect in that there were no "controls" taken of outside air. Interior mold counts track mold counts outside.
More interesting is the fact that the ozone readings "intermittently exceeded 0.05 parts per million (ppm) or 50 parts per billion (ppb) in both homes." Yet the verification specifically states that the ozone levels produced by the RGF device are "0.1 to 0.2 ppm (10 to 20 ppb)" and that "0.05 ppm (50 ppb) is the Federal safe limit for ozone." There is also a "Note" that says "0.1 to 0.2 ppm is equal to the ozone levels in the country or forest."
It is obvious from this document and other RGF materials that they are concerned about the amount of ozone produced by their devices. Given the recent negative publicity regarding devices that generate ozone in Consumer Reports, from the American Lung Association, from the California Air Resources Board and from the EPA, they have good reason to be. We have covered the problems with ozone exposure in some detail in the Articles section of this website. These articles have extensive Bibliographies listing reliable sources of information on ozone. Suffice it to say that it is a lung irritant, a known trigger for asthma and can cause chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath. It should not be used around the ill, infirm, young or elderly. Many factors affect ozone concentrations produced by machines that generate ozone including the amount of ozone produced by the machines, the size of the indoor space, the amount of material in the room with which ozone reacts, the outdoor ozone concentration and the amount of ventilation. These factors make it difficult to control ozone concentrations. No governmental agency sets ozone limits for air cleaning devices. The 50 ppb reference in the literature refers to the FDA limit set for medical devices. However, even lower levels of ozone can be cause for concern. For example in a recent study conducted by researchers from Yale University led by Michelle Bell and published in JAMA it was found that just a 10 ppb increase in the previous week's ambient ozone concentration was associated with a 0.52% increase in daily mortality or roughly an additional 3,700 deaths per year in the cities in the study. As Dr.Jonathan Samet, M.D., chairman of the epidemiology department of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said in a May 2005 Consumer Reports article: "We cannot guarantee safety at any ozone level, so it makes sense not to contaminate your living space."
The second tests were conducted by RGF staff led by Jim Hart, RGF Director of Engineering, aka James A. Hart. These tests were conducted in the office restroom and the test procedure is described as: "Wear sterile gloves, face mask, etc. At each interval perform a centrifugal test and a settling plate test." Significant mold count decreases were recorded but it is unclear whether these mold count reductions were due to the fact that the room was closed and new mold spores were not introduced into the environment. These results could conceivably also have been achieved by gravity and the settling of the mold spores in the room. No ozone measurements were recorded in the bathroom.
The same team lead by Jim Hart also conducted tests of ozone concentrations in a 2,000 cubic foot room in a private residence, an 832 cubic foot office and a 1,000 cubic foot poly lined test chamber. The only test plan and procedure mentioned is "all six ozone meters were tested in the chamber for 48 hours to determine test variations." There is no mention of how close the meters were to the devices as is standard protocol. Ozone levels recorded were between .02 ppm (20 ppb) and 0.04 ppm (40 ppb). Again it is interesting to note that the aforementioned "Verification" stated that the ozone levels created by the device were between 0.01 ppm and 0.02 ppm.
Another test mentioned was from Kansas State University and had to do with the performance of RGF devices on mold and bacteria. This was led by the food scientist, Dr. James Marsden. Unfortunately, the study had nothing to do with indoor air. Testing was done on the effectiveness of the devices on "reducing microbial populations on stainless steel surfaces." Indoor air chemistry is unique and one cannot make any assumptions about how devices might perform based on tests on any other medium.
Reference is also made about the effectiveness of the devices by a Dr. Wecht, the former Allegheny County Coroner. Actually, the statements made by Dr. Wecht are in the form of a testimonial and are not based on test results. Dr. Wecht has resigned his position and is currently under an 84-count indictment for using his office for personal gain. Althought the indictment has nothing to do with his testimonial, it would be prudent to have some statement from him that he has no financial connection to RGF or the sale of any of the products.
Other tests were performed by Performance Analytical on the reduction of "odors and VOC's." In the tests for odors 5 chemicals with distinctive odors were introduced into a chamber with a PHI device. To measure odor reduction the people at Performance Analytical measured the reduction in these 5 gasses. They did no measurements of other chemcals or compounds in the chamber. They did not do particle counts or ozone measurements. The real question is what was created by the chemical reactions between the odorous compounds in the chamber and the chemicals produced by the PHI device. As we have seen in numerous peer reviewed studies, the byproducts of these chemical reactions are often more dangerous than the original chemicals themselves.
In the case of VOC's, Performance Analytical introduced 2 VOC's into the chamber with the device in operation. The VOC's were d-limonene and styrene. They measured the VOC's in the chamber at set intervals. They found that the d-limonene was reduced by 84% greater than the control and that the styrene was reduced 31% greater than the control. They did not measure other chemicals or compounds in the chamber nor did they do particle or ozone counts. The results of these tests are not surprising. The VOC d-limonene is a terpene. It is well known that terpenes react with ozone to create millions of sub-micron sized particles. The fact that the d-limonene was reduced by 84% is a good indication that intense chemical reactions took place. It is almost certain that the particle counts in the chamber were extremely high. What is surprising is that the people at RGF would not be aware of this phenomenon. Numerous studies have been done on ozone/terpene reactions (see the Articles and Studies section of this website) and they are a cause for concern at the EPA and among indoor air scientists and engineers.
What is very troubling about all of these studies, tests or testimonials is that NONE of them have been done with PHI cells mounted in air conditioning and heating systems. Yet the results of the tests have been used to substantiate the effectiveness of the devices for that purpose. Of particular concern is that no tests have been presented showing the effects of the PHI technology on the components of the HVAC system. The combination of UV light, ozone and hydroxyl radicals will be extremely detrimental to anything made out of plastic, rubber, neoprene or any other organic chemical compound. It is likely that things like wire, tape, seals, mastic and flex duct will also "oxidize", become brittle and fail prematurely.
To summarize, a review of what we can find out about the tests "verified" by RGF raises more questions than it answers. The tests have either not been conducted by independent third parties, are not concerning the effectiveness of the products in indoor air, have not followed standard scientific protocols, are inconsistent or are incomplete. They certainly do not support the stated levels of effectiveness of the device - nor do they attest to the safety of operating this device in conjunction