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How many micrograms of VOCs, especially formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene can a typical air purifier filter?
Question Date: 2011-07-16
Answer 1:

First - when working with chemicals like those in a lab, we need to work in a fume hood that pulls the air away from us so that we don't get exposed to the VOC's. So I can't really approve of using those chemicals indoors with any air purifier. But I'll answer your question anyway.

A 'typical' air purifier might not remove any VOC's. Air purifiers tend to tout their HEPA filters, which filter out particles, not volatile organic molecules. Charcoal is one of the best things for removing VOC's, but you need an air purifier with a lot of charcoal. I have a HEPA air purifier that says it has charcoal, but it just has a dusting of charcoal on the prefilter, so it's quite a ripoff.

When I lived in a smelly moldy apartment, I searched for a charcoal air filter and came up with this one that I like for removing odors that are less toxic than your VOC's:


It was actually designed to remove odors that aren't toxic at all. but at least it's filled with charcoal.

Here's info from another site:
"Activated carbon is the most common adsorption medium in chemical air purifiers. A gram of activated carbon has 10,000 square feet of internal surface area. One pound of activated carbon has a surface area equal to about 125 acres. "


That site also says,
"Activated carbon is best for removal of high molecular weight compounds: volatile organic compounds (VOC's) like benzene, toulene and xylene."

So formaldehyde might be more of a problem, because it has a lower molecular weight and might not bind to the activated carbon as well as the larger VOC's.

My main advice is a concern about using any of those chemicals indoors or even outdoors unless there's good ventilation.

Keep asking questions!
Best wishes, and -Work safely!

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