Breathable Intake

Our Story

My name is Nir Biderman, and I’m the founder of Breathable Intake. 

Breathable Intake’s products were designed to meet the unique air quality needs of California’s homes. To better understand how Breathable Intake came to be – and why our products can and will make a meaningful difference in your home – I’d like to share our story. 

The 2018 wildfires. 

Back then, I was already the owner of Breathable Inc., a highly rated Bay Area company providing air quality-related services for central heating and air conditioning systems (at that point, my company had cleaned several thousand air duct systems). But like so many other health-conscious individuals out there, I was concerned about how the all-too-frequent wildfires were affecting the air quality of my own home. My son was 8 months old and was experiencing respiratory issues. It wasn’t fun. Whenever we turned on our central AC or heater, his symptoms would get much worse. Being a brand-new dad, I was extremely worried. It tore me apart seeing him going through that without being able to do much about it. I was using a portable air purifier, but it couldn’t keep up with my AC fan whenever the AC was running.

At that time, consumer-level air quality monitors weren’t designed to monitor sub-micrometer particles – the kind generated in a wildfire. In fact, most monitors still aren’t built for that size, despite the fact that these particles are actually more harmful than larger airborne particles, so I went out and purchased a particle counter with the ability to monitor 0.3 micrometer particles (which are tremendously small compared to common dust). At $10,000, it wasn’t a cheap investment, but it was totally worth it because it gave me a much deeper insight into what was happening to the air quality in my home during wildfires.

It wasn’t pretty.

The ability to test those sub-micrometer particles was key, as the EPA defined that size range as the most accurate representation of wildfire smoke particles (in their wildfire smoke guide for public health officials). It was shocking to witness the concentration levels of those particles in my home and those of my clients – and then to see how much worse things got whenever my central heater or AC was operating. 

At that point, Breathable Inc. had already worked on several thousand HVAC systems, so I knew which air filter brands were being used in most homes. It’s safe to say that about 96% of homeowners in the Bay Area (and probably in the entire country) use the same three brands of filters. After performing a series of tests and going over some of their performance charts, I realized that while those filters do a good job of filtering larger particles (dust, lint, etc.), their ability to filter sub-micrometer size particles (asbestos fibers, fungi, and particles associated with wildfire smoke) can be described as inadequate and practically worthless. Asbestos fibers are extremely unhealthy and are much more common in Bay Area homes than most people think, as asbestos was the “Wonder Bread” of construction materials prior to the 1980s. It is present in almost every home in the Bay Area, either in the form of loose thermal insulation, tiling, or chalking material. 

It became increasingly clear that existing filters were simply not up to the task of combatting these multiple threats to indoor air quality. 

At that point, I realized that Breathable Inc. was in a unique position: we had the experience and the resources to create a better filter. We had access to a nearly endless supply of used filters from real homes that we could rigorously sample and test. That’s a luxury that other filter manufacturers simply didn’t have. I also realized that we could design a filter around actual, local air pollutants instead of modeling them in a lab strictly based on the perceived diameters of common air pollutants. Excited by the possibilities, we began analyzing dirty filters and experimenting with various filtration methods and materials. 

From the get-go, we wanted our filters to outperform all other available options with respect to wildfire smoke and asbestos fibers, which we saw as the biggest air quality problems facing many of California’s residents. At the same time, we didn’t want it to cost thousands of dollars (as with the only other available option for residential HVAC). We created a filter with a baseline performance that captured between 0.4 to 0.7 micrometer particles (the diameter for wildfire smoke particles as defined by the EPA) at about 96% efficiency, which is roughly 2-20 times the effectiveness of the most common  filters used by Bay Area homeowners.

Today, our filter continues to evolve based on not just our local air quality needs, but the thousands of used air filters we still collect and analyze each year. 

California is truly a special place to call home, and we believe that Californians deserve an air filter that meets the unique needs of our beautiful state for years to come. 

Thank you for your interest in Breathable Intake.


Nir Biderman

Founder, Breathable Intake