We all know that air filters are great at removing dust and allergens from the air, but did you know they can also trap viruses? However, not all air filters do this equally well.
Almost all air filters will capture large particles like pollen, lint, pet hair, and dust, but unfortunately, viruses are among the smallest irritants you can find roaming the air. If a virus or bacteria is too small, then it will pass right through your air filter and never be trapped inside in the first place. That's why only special types of air filters are suitable for the removal of viruses.
Do note that there is no air filter that can "kill" a virus. At best, it will remove the virus from the air and trap it in place so that it cannot be circulated back into your breathing air. It doesn’t make you immune to viruses, but less likely to succumb to them. Once it is time to replace your air filter, it is important that you immediately dispose of it in an outdoor trash bin. You should never leave used or dirty air filters laying around.
Our goal is to help you find an air filter for your home or office that will protect you from a variety of airborne viruses, including bacteria and other dangerous microorganisms.
The Best Options for Virus Removal
HEPA Filters - The Best Option!
HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) is one of the most popular and well-known types of air filters. They are the "gold standard" of air filtration and utilize fiberglass to remove 99.97% of all particles from the air, including viruses.
In fact, HEPA filters are so effective at removing small particles from the air that they are often used in hospitals and other medical facilities. Among viruses, it can also capture and trap other health-risk irritants such as mold and bacteria.
If you're looking for an air purifier that can remove viruses from the air, then an air purifier model with a HEPA filter is your best bet.
Pleated Filters - MERV 13+
Pleated air filters are commonly used in residential and commercial HVAC systems. They are made of a pleated fabric (cotton or polyester) that is folded over to create many small pockets.
This design increases the filter's surface area, which allows it to collect more particles from the air as it passes through. Pleated filters can remove viruses from the air, but they are not as effective at doing so when compared to HEPA filters.
Not every pleated filter can remove viruses. In order to remove a virus, the filter must be rated at least MERV 13.
Pleated filters also have a lower airflow rate than most other types of air filters, which means that they will require more frequent replacement.
Filters That Do Not Remove Viruses
Carbon filters are often found in air cleaners, air conditioners, and refrigerators, and are typically used as a secondary filter. Activated carbon is used to neutralize odors by chemically attracting airborne contaminants like cigarette smoke or pet odor. Most carbon filters do not have any special features that allow them to remove viruses from the air - they're simply not designed for this purpose.
Targets Odors & Chemicals
Your carbon filter has a very specialized job; carbon is the "expert" at removing chemical irritants - not including viruses. However, they do remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which cannot be said for many other filters. VOCs are chemicals that are dangerous to your respiratory health when accumulated indoors. They are released into the air from many products we use to maintain our households, such as paint solvents, adhesives, pesticides, and more. It is extremely important to use carbon as part of your filtration system, but its purpose is not to remove viruses.
Electrostatic air filters are unique in that they use an electronic charge to attract and remove particles from the air. This type of filter might be able to remove viruses from the air, but only if it is rated at MERV 13 or above – most of which are not, so a vast majority of these filters are not targeting viruses.
Focuses On Large Particles
Electrostatic filters work best at removing mostly larger particles, like dust and lint, but they also can do a good job of removing smaller air pollutants. Even still, it is not the best option for virus removal as opposed to a HEPA filter.
Electrostatic filters also have an added benefit in that they do not produce ozone as a byproduct like other types of air purifiers - this means they're safer to use around children and pets.
The Only Air Purifier That Can Kill a Virus?
UV-C Air Purifiers
Ultraviolet air purifiers, or UV air cleaners as they are often called, utilize ultraviolet light to kill viruses in the air. Ultraviolet technology has been used for decades now to disinfect water through a process known as "ultra-violet germicidal irradiation" - a process that exposes air to ultraviolet light to kill viruses.
UV air purifiers are excellent at killing bacteria, mold spores, and other microorganisms. However, these types of air purifiers use ultraviolet light which can be harmful to your eyes and skin, so it is important to take precautions when using them. They're not as widely popular on the air filtration market as traditional air purification methods. The biggest issue is the amount of ozone these air purifiers produce through the breakdown of oxygen particles. And it may be worth pondering: If it can harm a virus, couldn't it potentially harm you?
UV air purifiers are "give-and-take." While it can "kill", or temporarily disarm viruses, it also introduces other dangers to your environment. You certainly do not want to have a UV air purifier in the same place you primarily live. The most effective way to protect yourself is through the traditional method, by trapping the virus particles and then throwing them away.
It is a hot topic now more than ever which methods could be used to remove or kill virus particles. At the mark of our third year into the pandemic, people continue to look for the best ways to protect their health. Rest assured that air purifiers have already been used for decades in order to assist laboratories, hospitals, and HVAC professionals with preventing airborne contamination. Of course, homeowners can benefit from this too!
Hopefully, this guide has helped you establish the purposes of different air filters, and which ones can be used to help trap virus particles. Remember that removing a virus is not the same as "killing" a virus, so when you are finished using your air filter, it should be disposed of immediately.
Replacement air purifier filters can be found here at the most competitive prices on the market, including those used for virus removal.