Do you know how important activated carbon is when it comes to removing gases and odors from your home? The ability of activated carbon to remove impurities from the air is one of the reasons it is commonly used in air filtration systems. Its use continues to increase as more industries and consumers consider their environmental impact before making important purchase decisions. In fact, the activated carbon market is expected to increase to 5.3 billion dollars by 2020. When activated carbon is used in an air purifier with a HEPA filter, the amount of contaminants removed from the air increases.
Activated Carbon Explained
Activated carbon is carbon that has been treated with oxygen; this causes millions of tiny pores to open up on the carbon’s surface. In fact, these pores are so numerous that a single pound of activated carbon may provide 60 to 150 acres of surface area to trap pollutants. Once carbon has been activated, it can remove a long list of airborne chemicals, including alcohols, organic acids, aldehydes, chlorinated hydrocarbons, ethers, esters, ketones, halogens, sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, and phosgene, among many others. It also removes odors, whether they be from humans or animals. It removes perfumes, household cleaning chemicals, and is especially good at removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Sometimes the carbon is treated with oxygen and another chemical, often a potassium. This creates a chemisorbent, which is better at removing inorganic gases and gases that are highly chemically-reactive.
How Activated Carbon Works
Activated carbon works by adsorption – the process by which a gas bonds to the surface of a solid. In this case, the solid is the activated carbon, which adsorbs as much as 60% of its weight in airborne pollutants. Air passes through the filter where airborne gases, chemicals, and odors react chemically with the surface of the carbon, effectively sticking to it. The clean air then flows out of the filter. Activated carbon filters will adsorb even a small amount of almost all vapors and they have a large capacity for removing organic molecules like solvents. They can also simultaneously adsorb many different kinds of chemicals, making these filters very efficient. Activated carbon works in any temperature or humidity and isn’t toxic, so it’s safe for people to handle. Thankfully, it’s also quite affordable.
Activated carbon filters effectively work like a sponge. The more activated carbon in the filter, the more pollutants it can remove and the longer the filter lasts. The best filters include many pounds of activated carbon to ensure a longer life before needing replacement.
Benefits of Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon filters are the most effective way to remove gases, chemicals, cigarette smoke, and other odors from the air. They are especially helpful for those with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or any respiratory condition that makes one sensitive to airborne chemicals. Many high-quality air purifiers, including the Swiss-made GC MultiGas by IQAir, contain both HEPA and activated carbon filters. Air purifiers may offer several different types of activated carbon filters, treated with different chemicals and thereby targeting specific chemicals. For example, certain air filters are specifically meant to target ammonia gases. Others target VOCs. These are not the only pollutants that the purifiers remove, but they are specially designed to be very effective at removing the target pollutant.
HEPA Air Purifiers
Many high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) air purifiers include a HEPA filter as well as an activated carbon filter. This allows them to remove a wide array of airborne pollutants, from noxious gases to common allergens. HEPA filters remove 99.97% of airborne irritants as small as 0.3 microns. They are commonly used to remove allergens and asthma triggers like pet dander, mold, pollen, dust mites, and so on. They even filter many viruses and bacteria, which is why they’re used in healthcare settings. While HEPA filters are often used by allergy sufferers and asthmatics, a HEPA filter combined with an activated carbon filter offers a comprehensive air purifier system – good for those people as well as sufferers of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and other respiratory sensitivities. Given that asthmatics are often triggered by cigarette smoke – which activated carbon filters are good at removing – they should consider purchasing an air purifier that includes both. It’s the best way to improve indoor air quality and ensure breathable, clean air.
Clean Air Plus is a veteran and family owned small business. We represent the leading manufacturers in HEPA filtration including Austin Air, IQAir, Amaircare, Oransi and Airpura. Shop online or call one of our friendly experts at 888.247.1147. We'll be happy to help.