Question: What are ways to make DIY filters to remove particulate pollution from indoor air?

zengirl2 is asking a question about air-quality
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by zengirl2 | December 12, 2017 21:22 | #15356

Many people are suffering from poor air quality in their homes from factory farms. They need an inexpensive solution as they cannot afford to move. They are incurring particulate matter including nano particles, as well as ammonia and Hydrogen Sulfide.


Just to get the ball rolling, I would suggest exploring activated carbon adsorption, scrubbing, and/or biofilters. These options would likely be the most reasonable from a DIY/cost/safety perspective for particulates, ordors, ammonia, H2S.

I would ensure the source is ambient air vs. household water as treatment would be different.

Literally just stumbled on this site. LMK if I can help more with specifics.

Great suggestions! I've also seen some stuff up at #air-filters -- one by @Melissa here: #12171

HEPA filters are a great choice for reducing particulate matter. Unfortunately, they are relatively ineffective for treating the gaseous compounds of concern (NH3, H2S, odors).

An easy addition may be to use that setup (#12171) with a combined HEPA/Activated Carbon filter (e.g. This would remove both particulate matter and the gases.

Additional steps could be taken to further improve the effectiveness for these compounds (impregnated AC/proper sizing/design) and/or integrate other techniques (trickling/scrubbing for NH3). Buying raw GAC or powdered AC would likely be cheaper and enable different design applications. You could even make your own if you're so inclined.

@BSweet thanks so much for the reply--do you have any suggestions for the biofiltering devices? Also, have you performed any tests of your own using these materials?

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Yes, in a professional capacity. In the DIY space not so much.

To keep it simple and cost effective I might suggest sticking with Activated Carbon. AC is a widely used, effective adsorbent. There is lots of available information from product manufacturers and academic sources related to the efficacy of AC adsorbents for various contaminants.

Many 'off the shelf' carbon products would have fair adsorption capacities for the contaminants you are concerned about. This is a technique you could easily employ today to improve indoor air quality while simultaneously experimenting with design/adsorbents to improve efficiency in the future, based on site specific requirements.

As for a Biofiltering device, it would require a higher degree of sophistication and cost to make it effective in this application. I would suggest taking a scrubber based design approach. If you are still interested I'd be happy to chat about that idea further or help with an adsorbent based approach. Cheers.

@BSweet This is all very helpful, and the carbon filter for the window will help people who can't afford A/C in the summer. I would like to chat more about carbon products when windows are closed. Do you have a link for a product example? I don't know much about these as I'm only a HEPA user at my house. Also, as far as chatting more, I'm thinking we might arrange a video conference/call as Public Lab offers an "Open Hour" focused talk 1/month where anyone can join in. I don't know if you are already subscribing to the Air Quality feed for emails, but it would be great to have you around!

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I am not subscribed to anything. Still new here and trying to figure it all out.

When is this discussion? I am happy to join if you think it would be of value.

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And I do not have any links atm but I can find suitable products.

I would look for AC (media) to build your own system, rather than use marketed treatment products. While many of these likely work to some degree, they generally seem undersized or over priced to have a significant impact on degraded indoor air quality.

Hey @BSweet yeah, this place has a lot of ways to engage, so take your time. :) Anyway, under "Get Involved" you can click on "Join the Discussions" to be added to the lists you think would be helpful. Also, on Tuesdays anyone can take part in a Public Lab video conf./call (click "Meet People" under "Get Involved". Finally, the themed Open Call I was talking about may happen in February--that's the one I think you should attend. I'll give you a shout if it happens. Glad you discovered this community since air quality is a huge issue.

Ok so I found this new product category for fans and carbon filters that's pretty cheap, and they're intended for hydroponics.

VIVOSUN 4 Inch 203 CFM Inline Duct Fan with 4"x 14" Carbon Filter Odor Control with Australia Virgin Charcoal

$88 and to be honest I think they're for hiding the fact that you're growing pot by filtering out the smell. Go figure.

I'm interested in this for a kitchen stove vent I want to build. I'm happy to buy one and try it out. I want to build it into a hanging lamp, actually, to go over a stove. Would this work for particulates too? I imagine it's considerably better than the carbon filters usually used in stove vents but really am not sure.

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