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AIR FILTER TYPES
Mechanical air filters, such as high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, remove particles by capturing them on filter materials. Most mechanical air filters are good at capturing larger airborne particles — such as dust, pollen, some mold spores, and animal dander — and particles that contain dust mite and cockroach allergens. But because these particles settle rather quickly, mechanical air filters are not very good at completely removing them from indoor areas.
Electronic air cleaners, such as electrostatic precipitators, use a process called electrostatic attraction to trap particles. Ion generators, or ionizers, disperse charged ions into the air. These ions attach to airborne particles, giving them a charge so they can attach to nearby surfaces such as walls or furniture, or to one another, and settle faster. However, some electronic air cleaners can produce ozone, a lung irritant.
Another type of air-cleaning device is a gas-phase filter designed to remove gases and odors by either physical or chemical processes.
Gas-phase air filters remove gaseous pollutants by using a material called a sorbent, such as activated carbon, to adsorb pollutants. Because these filters are targeted at one or a limited number of gaseous pollutants, they will not reduce concentrations of pollutants for which they were not designed. None are expected to remove all of the gaseous pollutants in the air of a typical home. Gas-phase filters are much less common in homes than are particle air filters. One reason may be the filter can become overloaded quickly and may need to be replaced often.