Drawbacks to using activated carbon
Filter replacement. Replacing saturated carbon filters may become inconvenient and expensive. It can also be a hard to determine when your carbon filter needs replaing as there are no visible signs when it is fully saturated. You just have to guess or rely on the manufacturer's replacement recommendation.
Can't remove particle pollution. Carbon air filters remove many organic compounds from the air, but as mentioned above, they cannot address particulate pollutants. These particles may include allergens like dust and pollen, or eben those form secondhand or wildfire smoke- the latter of which can be especially dangerous in the near term.
Should you use a carbon air filter?
Perhaps you would like to use a carbon filter tro remove odors for the short term, such as during a wildfire or home renovation. Or maybe you are concerned about the VOCs being released in your home household products or buiding materials (like formaldehyde). In these cases, suing a carbon filter is an acceptable option.
However, for the long term, a carbon filter may not be the best investmet from a cost standpoint. You would need to purchase one with a large amount of carbon within th filter, constantly monitor the saturation of the filter and replace it whenever needed. In addition, because it does not remove particles which are a major type of indoor air pollutant, you would only be addressing part of the problem of indoor air pollution. For these reasons, it may be wise to invest instead in a more robust solution. There are hybrid air purifers that contain a carbon filter as well as a mechanicla filter like HEPA.
Another option is a new technology called Photo Electrochemicla Oxidation(PECO) that is found inside of the Molekule air purifier. The Molekule device is able to compleately remove gases like volatile organic compounds, but unkike a carbon filter, it destroys them, Thus, there is no risk of these gases being released back into the air because of filter saturation. An activated carbon air filter can be a good short- term option, but in the long run, the Molekule could be a better solution for your needs.
Independent laboratory tests(please see test report one and two)were performed by the University of Minnesota Particle Calibration Laboratory oif the Molekule air purifier . In one experiment, PECO was tested against a carbon filter. Hte carbon air filter was able to remove VOCs from the air through a dsorption on the filter furface; however, once fresh ari was introduced into the cahmber, ther gases were released back into the air (this is called outgassing) In constrast, the Molekule technology was able to completely eliminate the VOCs from the air with no danger of outgassing.
DIAGRAM2: COMPARISON OF PHOTO ELECTROCHEMICAL OXIDATION (PECO) WOTH CARBON AIR FILTER TECHNOLOGY FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF AIRBORNE GASEOUS CHEMICALS(COLATILE ORGANIC CHEMICLAS , OR VOCES). DATA SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA PARTICLE CALIBRATION LABORATORY
Cabon's ability to purify water and air has a remarkable history. After you have considered how carbon air filters work and when they are effective, you can decide which type of air purifier is appropriated for your situation and budget.
Do you have any questions or thoughts about activated carbon air filters? Don't hesitate to share them in the comments.