4 Types of Air Filters and Their Pros and Cons

One thing that a lot of people are concerned about is the quality of the air in their home. That’s why air filters are such a big seller. Unfortunately, there are a lot to choose from. So how do you choose which one is best for you? Below are the four main types of air filters and their pros and cons.


The technology for these air filters was developed originally during WWII for removing the dust particles that were radioactive from air to protect the respiratory systems of soldiers. These days they’re often used for filtering air in a house and they can trap 99.97% of those airborne particles as the size of 0.3 microns as well as 95% of those particles as small as 0.1 microns.

When someone inhales air contaminants, the natural defense of the human body is a lot more vulnerable to the particles under 0.5 microns. That’s the reason why these types of filters are recommended by doctors and allergists – they can remove most air contaminants even when they are extremely tiny.

Some common contaminants in the air and their micron size:

  • Pollen (from 5 to 100)
  • Mold (from 2 to 20)
  • Pet Dander (from 0.5 to 100)
  • Dust Mites (from 0.5 to 50)
  • Bacteria (from 0.35 to 10)

HEPA filters can remove all contaminants above since they’re bigger than 0.3 microns. These filters can’t capture fumes, cigarette smoke, and chemicals because they have smaller microns than 0.3. That’s the reason that you want to buy this type of filter that has a carbon filter that’s activated so that they are able to capture the allergens that the filter can’t.


  1. Can remove allergens such as dust, dust mites, mold spores, and pollen.
  2. Can remove most bacteria
  3. The captured solid particles aren’t released back into your air.


  1. Is not able to remove odors, cigarette smoke or chemical fumes.
  2. Isn’t as effective when capturing tiny viruses
  3. The microorganisms that the filter captures are able to reproduce or breed, which means that there are more populations of microorganisms.

Activated Carbon

These kinds of filters have little absorbent pores in them that react chemically to the pollutants as they’re going through it. This is what causes pollutants and carbon to bond so that they are trapped. These types of filters are good at clearing odors, chemicals, smoke, and gases from the air. They’re rarely used by themselves for purifying air and they’re often used along with other types of filters.


  1. They absorb the best of all filters
  2. Capture gases, odors, cigarette smoke and chemical fumes
  3. Don’t release the contaminants into air again


  1. Doesn’t remove microorganisms
  2. Doesn’t remove allergens such as dust

Ionic Filter

These filters are built around negative ion generators. These generators send out a negative ion stream that will attract the positive airborne allergen and dust particles. Because of this, the particles will become really heavy and therefore will fall onto the ground. Since most room surfaces tend to be positively charged, those particles are also attracted to those surfaces. This means that the spots around this type of filter will get some dark spots on the nearby floors and walls. There are some of the ionizers that have electrostatic precipitators. These trap the particles on metal plates. To keep their effectiveness, it’s essential that the plates are regularly cleaned.

An ionizer’s a fairly inexpensive way that you can clear the secondhand smoke. But, if you’re having issues with pollen or dust this type of air purifier probably isn’t going to be the best options since the particles aren’t eliminated completely. The biggest concern when it comes to these kinds of filters it that they produce ozone. When you inhale ozone right into your lungs, it can cause health problems. It can cause damage to your lungs, trigger asthma, and even cause death. These are the things you should consider when buying this type of filter.


  1. Removes really tiny particles that are as little as just 0.01 microns.
  2. Sterilizes viruses, smoke, bacteria and other kinds of toxic fumes
  3. It’s very quiet when running because there aren’t any motors or fans.


  1. Will remove particles from the air but doesn’t remove them from a room. Particles will land on the walls, furniture, and floor. They also may go back into the air.
  2. Has ozone as its by-product
  3. Doesn’t remove odor

Ultraviolet Light

This filter uses UV light with electromagnetic radiation. This destroys pathogens such as bacteria by breaking up the pathogens’ molecular bonds within the DNA. These filters kill the particles without any type of filtration. Instead, they use the UV light for eliminating them as they’re passing.
This type of air purifier will work well for killing molds, viruses, yeasts, and bacteria which could be floating around in your air. The only bad thing is that they don’t work well for killing solids, allergens or dust that’s in the air. This type of filter is good for people who are sick a lot because they’re able to prevent diseases and illness. An air purifier that has a UV filter will often be used in the sterile environments like kitchens, labs, daycares, and hospitals. When they’re used in a house, they’re wonderful to help control mold.

The best performance happens when these types of air filters are used with other kinds. This way they are able to work with one another so that a lot more air contaminant types are removed, like allergens, chemical fumes, and odor which this type of filter can’t remove.
Some UV filters also generate ozone in order to destroy bacteria. This isn’t always dispersed properly, which can create a serious concern for your health. If you’re buying this type of filter, make sure you’re choosing one that won’t produce any ozone.


  1. Can destroy microorganisms like mold, bacteria and germs
  2. Helps with preventing disease and illness


  1. Doesn’t remove the majority of dust, solids or allergens from air
  2. Doesn’t remove gases, cigarette smoke or chemical fumes.

When you are deciding on which type of air filter you want to get, think about your environment and your needs. Do you have pets or allergies? Does someone smoke in your house? Depending on your answers, one or the other might be better, or you might want to use a couple of them together to get the best air quality in your home. Weigh their pros and cons and see what they have to offer to you. Then you can choose the one that works best for your needs and the health of you and your family.