Air Purifiers for Chemicals

Chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) seem to be everywhere these days, produced by almost everything. While there are multiple ways to address the chemical concerns in your environment, an air purifier can be a very effective solution in situations where alternative methods are not possible.

When you are concerned about chemicals in household cleaning products or detergents, you may be able to switch to a different brand. Or you may be able to open your windows to ventilate strong smells from the 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.

Are Air Purifiers Effective at Removing Chemicals?
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 light carbon pre-filter, is not going to be sufficient. An air purifier with a low airflow or a compact size is also not going to provide effective and sustained relief from chemicals.

Choosing the Right Type of Air Purifier
The best performing air purifiers for chemicals meet several key criteria. These air purifiers include a large volume of activated carbon. They often utilize customized blends of treated activated carbon to capture the specifics chemicals that you are concerned about. In addition, they often have high airflow, 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? Would a hand towel, a sponge, or a few paper towels take care of it? Of course not! A giant spill requires a solution with much more capacity to absorb it. That is... unless you want to be wringing out your towel for 3 solid hours.

The same idea applies to choosing an air purifier for chemicals. Although most air purifiers on the market have some tiny amount of activated carbon, that carbon is often only effective for removing very faint odors, and only for a very limited time. You have capacity to clean up only one or two chemical odor “spills” in your home.

From experience, you know that a small sponge cannot absorb a full bucket of water. In the same way, a small mesh activated carbon filter cannot adsorb a high volume of airborne chemicals for months on end. It will quickly become saturated and need to be replaced. Therefore, you need an air purifier with a high volume of activated carbon in order to last for many months of use.

High Airflow, and High Carbon Capacity is Key
While you absolutely need an air purifier with a high activated carbon content to absorb toxic chemicals for an extended duration, you also want a unit with high airflow so that the chemicals can be removed quickly.

Unlike pollen, dust, or pet dander that cause short-lived allergic reactions and temporary discomfort, chemical exposure can lead to ongoing and lifelong health problems. In addition, chemicals are far trickier to remove than the typical airborne allergen.

Choosing the Right Air Purifier
Read most about our best air purifiers for chemicals and what makes them the recommended solutions for each particular chemical concern.

Are There Chemicals That Air Purifiers Cannot Remove?
Air purifiers with a large volume of activated carbon can be very effective at removing chemicals. However, there are some chemicals that simply cannot be removed effectively by air purifiers. Some of these chemicals include:

  • Radon
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Carbon Dioxide

Due to the nature of these chemicals, they cannot be adsorbed by activated carbon or removed by air purifiers, so they must be resolved at the source. If you have concerns about these above chemicals, 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, the only thing you can do is evacuate the home immediately.

Additional Steps to Control Your Air Quality
Some additional preventative steps to reduce chemical issues in the home can enhance indoor air quality and boost the performance of an air purifier. Fresh air and ventilation diminish the effect of pollution from chemicals, and open doors and windows provide it during home-cleaning periods.

  • Ventilation: Open the windows or doors in your home to bring in outside air and ventilate high concentrations of chemicals from the indoors to the outdoors.
  • 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. Low indoor temperature and humidity can prevent some VOCs from off-gassing, and formaldehyde is one that responds well.

By following these additional steps, and selecting the appropriate air purifier for your chemical concerns, you can significantly improve the air quality in your home or office environment.

Read more about our recommended best air purifiers for chemicals.