Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include chemicals, gases and odors are tiny molecules (< 0.001 microns) that are in the air. Since VOCs are not captured by HEPA media, activated carbon technology is necessary to remove them. Air purifiers with activated carbon help to remove odors and organic gases and solvents, including alcohols, benzene, esters, ketones and toluene from the air.
Human beings and other living things should not have to breathe in toxic chemicals when they are indoors or outdoors. People with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and people who live or work in cities or industrial environments are particularly at risk of airborne chemical exposure. Reactions to VOCs include asthma, headaches, vertigo, joint pain, burning eyes, runny nose, extreme lethargy, poor concentration, ADD and diminished memory. Air purifiers with activated carbon technology can minimize reactions to VOCs, including diesel, gasoline, solvents, adhesives, cleaning products, perfume, hair and nail products and tobacco smoke.
Premium air purifiers use activated carbon produced from coconut shells. The coconut is heated at low temperature (200-300º F) over several days, transforming the coconut husk into carbon. This carbon is treated with hot steam to remove impurities and to create thousands of cracks in the structure. These cracks enlarge the carbon’s surface area, making it highly porous and attractive to gases and vapors. Like a sponge, activated carbon chemically bonds and adsorbs organic chemical impurities in the air.
Many brands, including Austin Air, BlueAir, IQAir and Honeywell use some activated carbon in their air purifiers.