Air Purifiers for Formaldehyde Removal

Nobody thinks about buying an air purifier for removing formaldehyde when there isn't a health problem

Symptoms seemed to come from nowhere, now it's an "allergy."

Maybe you just moved into a brand new doublewide mobile home?

Or maybe it's a new site-built house with gas appliances and wall to wall formaldehyde emissions.

Sold the ancestral home and used the proceeds to buy a retirement RV and go south for the winter?


Until the FEMA RV trailer formaldehyde scandal hit the wire.

You just applied multiple coats of oil-based paint, which takes up to 18 months to out-gas, to your heirloom furniture from great grandma.


The cabinet guy said the smell would only last a week....

Or could it be the new $10,000 leather furniture?

Hotel California: Toxic Traps

I know many folks are trapped in their current living arrangement by the "economic recovery."

But everyone should have a long term plan for purging their lives of these toxins.

Removing all formaldehyde sources from the home should be the first step in reducing exposure.

But often that is simply not feasible in the short term.

The purchase of an air purifier should be considered a temporary solution to continuous formaldehyde emissions in the home.

When it comes to gas phase Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) like formaldehyde, the great majority of air purifiers, despite advertising claiming the ability to eliminate VOC pollutants, simply cannot do the job.

VOCs go right through paper HEPA filter media, which is designed to capture only particles.

Carbon impregnated polyester wrap around prefilters will capture formaldehyde for maybe the first three weeks.

Some of these you can see right through.

Air purifiers must be specifically designed to remove formaldehyde, most are not.

There is little real evidence on the effectiveness of residential purifiers at removing airborne formaldehyde.

Continuous source emissions which come from building materials or furnishings are the most difficult for air purification equipment to eliminate.

In industrial settings, expensive real-time monitoring and air scrubbing is required for formaldehyde abatement.

Residential air cleaner VOC removing performance over long periods of time is problematic, since subjective odor detection or symptom relief may be the main metrics for evaluation.

In my opinion, formaldehyde is dangerous at levels which may not provoke "allergy" symptoms.

Individuals chronically exposed to aldehydes may loose the ability to smell them.

If our only method of timing the replacement of costly gas-phase filters is the return of odors or symptoms, we haven't really eliminated enough of the formaldehyde.

So purifiers that actually remove airborne formaldehyde are going to be expensive, and must run continuously on high fan speeds.

To be effective, filter media should be replaced much more frequently than manufacturer recommended intervals.

Which Technology?

Removing aldehydes means we have only a few choices of air cleaning technology.

Basically we can capture the gas or destroy it by oxidation.

An air purifier with at least 6 lbs. of activated carbon combined with activated alumina/potassium permanganate and/or potassium iodide would be my main choice.

Plain activated carbon won't be nearly as effective. get air purifier for your own room

In outdoor air formaldehydes have a short half-life, just a few hours.

Ultraviolet frequencies in sunlight create reactive hydroxyl radicals, and formaldehyde is readily photo-oxidized to carbon dioxide.

But indoors there is relative darkness.

This suggests that oxidizing air cleaners might be the answer to formaldehyde.

Many ozone generators are advertised as being suitable for formaldehyde abatement.

They are not, because the source is a continuous background emission, and ozone concentrations high enough to suppress these are toxic.

Aldehydes are often absorbed onto surfaces and textiles, like carpets, furniture, and curtains.

These will take months to outgas, assuming the source has been removed.

Ozone is well suited to one time shock treatments, it is perfect for eliminating entrenched mold.

But if you are living in a new mobile home, or worse, a US government FEMA trailer, and absolutely cannot escape, a high powered ozone generator rental might help.

Let it run for 72 hours while your family stays elsewhere.

Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO)

Photocatalytic air purifiers can actually remove VOCs.

Photocatalysts destroy indoor air pollutants using ultraviolet light energy bombarding a light-sensitive surface.

When energized, oxidation and reduction reactions occur on the catalyst surface, converting organic pollutants to carbon dioxide and water.

For the uninitiated, here is my page devoted to PCO: Photocatalytic Air Purification

Experimental results have cast some doubt as to the completeness of the oxidation in the many hastily designed less costly PCO tack-ons now flooding the market.

Without a powerful lamp, intense UV exposure, and significant dwell time in the chamber, partially oxidized byproducts escape. get air purifier from

This calls the "just carbon dioxide and water remain" claims into question.

Air purifiers with PCO should be designed around the main technology.

Most PCO purifiers are not properly engineered to significantly expunge continuous source formaldehyde.

Hydroxyl radical ionizers also claim to eliminate formaldehyde. When combined with sensors which sniff the most common VOC, these would be a lower priced alternative.

My Sharp Plasmacluster ionizer can smell when I need a bath, but I have no idea whether it can respond to low levels of formaldehyde.

I am surprised that no manufacturer of air purifiers stepped forward to volunteer their aldehyde-capable air purification equipment to New Orleans hurricane victims trapped in toxic FEMA trailers.

What a missed marketing opportunity.

Recommended Purifiers for Formaldehyde

I warned you this wouldn't be cheap.

IQAir GCX Chemisorber ($2,199.00) is very good at removing formaldehyde and other VOCs.

IQAir GC Chemisorber ($1,199.00) air purifiers are well suited to removal of Formaldehyde.

A standard IQAir pre-filter is followed by four filter cartridges loaded with complex gas phase media.

These filter cartridges hold 12 pounds of the carbon-potassium permanganate media.

CG's have a total of nine replacement filters and are obviously expensive to maintain.

Airpura P600 $1,000 photocatalytic and carbon, good purifiers with expensive upkeep.

AllerAir D-series, especially the DX and DXVOC, around $1,000, are good VOC removers, but have no HEPA filter for particles.

Allerair 6000 Vocarb $1000, air purifiers with 18 pounds of blended activated carbon and HEPA, are a mid-priced option for removing continuous emitting aldehydes.

Airpura P600 $1,000 photocatalytic and carbon, expensive upkeep.AustinAir Healthmate Plus $648.99 with 15 lbs. "Superblend" carbon/zeolite filter impregnated with potassium iodide

Airpura P600 $1,000 photocatalytic and carbon, expensive upkeep.Air Oasis 3000 $374.99, low ozone photocat, no filters to buy, very long 3-year cell replacement interval.

Airpura P600 $1,000 photocatalytic and carbon, expensive upkeep.Aireox 45D $309.00, with "purafil' potassium permanganate and carbon, for a small room.

Air-purifier-power is proud to be sponsored by online allergy store

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Sylvane carries IQAir Chemisorber Air Purifiers

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