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Can Industrial Molecular Air Filters Remove VOCs from Common Items?

Reducing the Levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Indoors

Learn why common items can be a source of air pollution and how industrial molecular air filters solve their effects on indoor air quality.

Air Filtration Solutions – Amid growing concerns over the health dangers of air pollution, more and more schools, commercial establishments, manufacturing facilities, hospitals, and airports are using industrial molecular filters to remove hazardous contaminants in the air. Although there are different types, activated carbon is the most common molecular filter.

“In recent years, air pollution has also become a public health issue. It has been singled out as a factor causing premature death and increasing the risk of respiratory or cardiovascular disease,” said Victor Rengel, Molecular Filtration Product Manager at Camfil USA. “Far from being anecdotal, air pollution causes 310,000 premature deaths in Europe alone and is a growing threat in countries with fast-developing economies.”

Much of the focus on reducing air pollution has been centered on limiting carbon emission from automobiles. However, cars are just one side of the story. In urban areas, for example, emissions from common items such as paint, cleaning supplies, and personal care products are all significant contributors to the level of particulate matter (PM) in the atmosphere.

Are Industrial Air Filter Manufacturers Aware of the VOC Emissions Problem?

According to one study published in the journal Science, a research team found that a wide variety of common household items like paints, printer ink, cleaning products, nail polishes, hair sprays, and fragrances among others, produce as much volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as cars do in large American cities. Fortunately, industrial air filter manufacturers are aware of the problem and are creating air filtration solutions specifically designed for the removal of these VOCs.  

If there’s a silver lining to this study, it’s that efforts to reduce carbon emissions produced by cars over the past few decades have indeed worked, as evidenced by the diversified sources of air pollution shows, at least in major U.S. cities. Now, the next challenge is to address the problem of VOC emissions and their effect on indoor air quality

The Link Between VOCs and Industrial Molecular Filter Air Purifiers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes volatile organic compounds as emitted gases from certain liquids or solids. VOCs contain a variety of organic chemicals.  While some are harmless, other chemicals found in VOCs are dangerous to human health. The good news is that industrial molecular filter air purifiers with activated carbon filters are capable of removing VOCs from the air. 

It’s also a good thing because concentrations of VOCs can be up to 10 times higher indoors according to the EPA. The reason that can happen is that many organic chemicals are a necessary component of household products, such as:

  • Paints
  • Varnishes
  • Waxes
  • Solvents
  • Disinfectants
  • Cosmetics
  • Hobby Products
  • Fuel

Moreover, these products don’t have to be used for them to generate VOCs. Even in storage, items like fuel will release or “off-gas” VOCs to some extent. This release can be a serious issue in places that handle large quantities of fuel and chemical ingredients—think industrial facilities and manufacturing sites

Using Activated Carbon Air Filters

There are many types of commercial molecular air filters on the market that promise to remove VOCs. Be careful when coming across filters at low prices—more often than not, these rarely do a good job of removing ordinary allergens, much less volatile organic compounds. When it comes to air purification, the least expensive option may not be the most efficient for your health.

Filtration systems that remove VOCs use additional technologies such as plain activated carbon, impregnated granulated carbon or various oxidizing pellets. 

How Do Industrial Molecular Air Filters Remove VOCs?

Activated carbon is a super-porous carbonaceous material that features a network of interconnected pores and fissures down to a size of .2 to 1 micron—visible only with the use of a microscope.

When the VOC gases make contact with the activated carbon filter, the VOC molecules first enter the largest pores on the carbon media’s surface. Through the process of diffusion, the molecules make their way down into the smallest pores of the carbon material until they are trapped and can move no further. This action is how activated carbon filters trap VOCs like tobacco smoke, car exhaust emissions, and chemical fumes from disinfectants and cleaning products. 

Final Note on Using Industrial Molecular Air Filtration Systems

While industrial molecular air filtration systems are an effective way to reduce levels of volatile organic compounds indoors, the best course of action is to look at a building’s indoor environment to determine which items may be off-gassing VOCs. In the common household setting, people can learn more about potentially hazardous products by requesting a copy of the material safety data sheets (MSDS) from their respective manufacturers.

For commercial and manufacturing facilities that must keep items with VOCs in their premises, a powerful activated carbon filtration system will be the best solution to maintaining safe air quality levels. 

If you would like more information about industrial air filtration systems and how they improve your indoor air quality, get in touch with Camfil USA or browse our catalog of air filters.

 

Lynne Laake

Camfil USA Air Filters 

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