Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), many of which are made up of various chemicals, are gases that are emitted from thousands of everyday products and are regularly found in indoor air. According to the EPA, indoor VOC concentrations can be up to ten times higher than outdoor levels. Common sources of VOCs include aerosol sprays, household cleaners, paint, and air fresheners. Exposure to chemicals can cause a host of symptoms such as eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, and more serious complications such as cancer.
While there are multiple ways to address chemical concerns in your environment, an air purifier is an effective solution in situations where alternative methods are not possible. Our experts have helpfully compiled the best air purifiers for chemicals in the chart below:
Are Air Purifiers Effective at Removing Chemicals?
If you’re concerned about the chemicals in your household cleaning products or detergents, you can switch to a different brand or open your windows to ventilate strong smells from your home. However, when the source of the chemical can’t easily be removed, such as off-gassing from building materials, or when the source is outdoors, a high-performance air purifier may be your best option.
Air purifiers are very effective at removing a wide range of toxic and noxious chemicals from the air, but there’s a catch: only the right type of air purifier is going to work for the job, and choosing the right air purifier can be a bit confusing and overwhelming. An air purifier with only a HEPA filter or a light carbon pre-filter will not effectively filter VOCs, and a unit with a low airflow or a compact size will not provide effective and sustained relief from chemicals.
Choosing the Right Type of Air Purifier for VOCs and Chemicals
The best performing air purifiers for chemicals meet several key criteria. These air purifiers include a large volume of activated carbon, and often utilize customized blends of treated activated carbon to capture specific chemicals for your needs. Additionally, they have high airflow and are capable of circulating air in a room quickly.
Why is a Large Volume of Activated Carbon a Key Requirement?
How would you clean up a small coffee spill on the counter? You would probably grab a sponge, a rag, or even a paper towel. Any of those would clean up the spill and still have some absorptive capacity to spare.
But what if an entire bucket of water got spilled, creating a puddle 10 feet across? A larger spill requires a solution with much more capacity to absorb it.
The same idea applies to choosing an air purifier for chemicals. Although most air purifiers on the market have some amount of activated carbon, that carbon is often only effective for removing very faint odors, and only for a very limited time. In other words, they only have the capacity to clean up one or two chemical odor “spills” in your home.
Just like a small sponge cannot absorb a full bucket of water, a small mesh activated carbon filter cannot absorb a high volume of airborne chemicals for months on end. It will quickly become saturated and need to be replaced. An air purifier with a high volume of activated carbon that lasts for many months of use, such as the Alen BreatheSmart 45i, is the most effective way to filter chemicals.
Besides having a high activated carbon content, your air purifier should also have a high airflow so that toxic chemicals can be removed quickly.
Are There Chemicals That Air Purifiers Cannot Remove?
Air purifiers with a large volume of activated carbon are very effective at removing chemicals. However, there are some chemicals that simply cannot be removed effectively by air purifiers. Some of these chemicals include:
- Carbon Monoxide
- Carbon Dioxide
Due to the nature of these chemicals, they cannot be absorbed by activated carbon or removed by air purifiers, so they must be resolved at the source. If you have concerns about the chemicals listed above, then you should take preventative measures to protect your home and your family. Install sensors in your home to sound the alarm when these lethal chemicals are detected. If the alarm goes off, evacuate the home immediately and call emergency services.
Additional Steps to Control Your Air Quality
These preventative steps will reduce chemical exposure, enhance your indoor air quality, and boost the performance of an air purifier.
- Ventilation: Open the windows or doors in your home to bring in outdoor air and ventilate high concentrations of chemicals.
- Remove the chemical source: Many composite wood materials, such as plywood or particle board can off-gas chemicals into the home. Many cleaning products also contain toxic chemicals. Do your best to remove these products from your home. Hard woods may be more expensive than particle board based furniture with a wood laminate, however, hard woods are a safer alternative in the long term.
By following these additional steps, and selecting the appropriate air purifier for your chemical concerns, such as the Airpura F600DLX, you can significantly improve the air quality in your home or office environment.