What do activated carbon filters remove from indoor air? from Carrie Ge's blog


Activated carbon filters found in air purifiers or air conditioning air filters are best suited to trap particles less than 0.3 micrometers in size, such as tobacco smoke, cooking oil fumes, bacteria, viruses, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).activated carbon for air purification Activated carbon filters are able to achieve this by the process of adsorption, thanks to their high surface area.


Activated carbon has a porous structure that allows it to have a disproportionately large surface area compared to its weight. All this surface area makes it ideal to trap small pollutants within its pores, a method known as adsorption. When these pores are open (meaning, unoccupied and ready to adsorb pollutants), the carbon is called “activated carbon”.


Activated carbon filters are best for very small particles, usually below 0.3 micrometers (microns) in size. So, what would those small particles be?


VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds)

These are molecular level pollutants and can only realistically be removed with an activated carbon filter, at least when it comes to what’s out there in the consumer market.coconut shell based activated carbon pellet Volatile organic compounds are gases that are so small, they can stay suspended in the air.It’s usually the VOCs inside a home that are responsible for lingering chemical smells and odors.


You already know that some of them are found in tobacco smoke. So by extension, VOCs can also be found in other smoke pollutants, such as those that are released from burning a wood or coal in a fireplace, or using a kerosene heater and gas appliances like stoves and laundry dryers.



Bacteria typically are large enough to be removed by other filters, but an activated carbon filter will help close the gap and take care of virtually all kinds of bacteria.



Viruses are much smaller than bacteria, so a high quality activated carbon filter will probably trap most of them. Emphasis on high quality – we’re talking about slightly more expensive, if not commercial grade here to truly make a difference.


Having this kind of filter also doesn’t mean that the danger the virus poses is gone. You’ll need some other technology like UV light for that. Some air purifiers also use ionizers and other technologies to kill viruses. However, just how safe some of them are is up for debate and not the topic of this post.

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By Carrie Ge
Added Oct 20



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