Do Air Filters Work for Smoke?

Smoking has fallen out of favor of large parts of the population recently, as the number of daily smokers saw a 25% decrease from 2005 to 2016. Even more so, though, smoking indoors has fallen especially out of favor. Gone are the days of lighting a cigarette at a crowded restaurant.
However, you’re still free to smoke inside your home. But if you’re worried about the various issues that may arise, like the smell and toxic second-hand smoke, you may have begun wondering if air filters work for catching smoke particles.

This article will teach you a little bit about the effectiveness of air filters in catching smoke, and will explain a little bit about how the filters work. In short, the answer to the question is, sort of.

The Smell

Most air purifiers are high-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA filters. These work to catch larger particles and are particularly efficient at doing so. Their shortcoming is that they cannot catch smaller particles very well.
The best thing that typical HEPA filters can do for smoke is to stop most of the visible signs of it. They’ll also reduce the odor to some extent, but not completely. Other filters may also cut down on smell.

The Toxic Compounds in Second-hand Smoke

The more pressing issue than the smell, though, is the presence of toxic compounds that can have seriously detrimental health effects to those around a smoker, particularly children. These volatile inorganic compounds, or VOCs linger in the air and can become trapped in the lungs of nonsmokers.

HEPA filters are impotent to catch VOCs, so do not expect these to help with catching those toxic compounds. The same goes for UV purifiers and gas-phase filters.

Your best bet for stopping the VOCs in cigarette smoke is a PECO air purifier. PECO stands for photoelectrochemical oxidation, which can actually remove some of those harmful compounds and also reduce the unpleasant smell that cigarettes give off.

PECO Filters

PECO technology is much more suited to remove the VOCs in cigarette smoke than typical filters. These filters use free radicals that bond to and break down certain contaminants that most filters are unable to catch. These include mold, mildew, certain virus particles and VOCs. PECO filters can catch particles a thousand times smaller than the particles that HEPA filters can, according to some estimates.

What We Recommend

Don’t expect any filter, even a PECO one, to completely catch all VOCs; no filter can do that. We recommend that smokers either give up the habit or smoke outside. Not only will this help their home smell better, it will keep the air cleaner and help improve the health and safety of those who live with them.

There are plenty of online resources available to smokers to help them quit, as well as accountability groups and in-person sessions. An air purifier is a good step in the right direction, but there are still going to be particles that cannot be caught, and subsequently negative health effects.