MERV 8 Vs Common Air Pollutants

Whether you live in the city, a suburb, or a rural area, toxins, and allergens are all around you. Trees and flowers have pollen, cars emit gasses, and the materials used in construction can be very harmful to a person’s lungs.

The HVAC system in your house can make the air you breathe clean and comfortable. If you want your home to be as free of pollutants as possible, you should get a top-quality air filter for your HVAC system and change it frequently. If you know a bit about air filter quality, you will be able to figure out which filters are the best for your home.

MERV Rating

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, is a system of rating the quality of air filters used in the HVAC industry. Air filters are rated on a scale of 1 to 16. The higher the rating, the more effective the air filter. Filters are rated by their ability to capture particles of dust, dander, viruses, and fumes out of the air. Filters that are rated 16 on the MERV scale are used in medical facilities and can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns.

Home HVAC systems are not designed to capture particles quite that small. Generally, filters that are used in home HVAC systems are between 8 and 13 on the MERV scale.

Merv 8 air filters are decent at combating certain air pollutants. Before you select an air filter, you should know if a MERV 8 will be sufficient to get rid of the pollutants where you live.

Why MERV 8s are Popular

A MERV 8 air filter is capable of capturing particles in the air that are anywhere from 3.0 to 10.0 microns in size and will capture 84.9 percent of those particles. It is one of the most popular filters on the market and has been ever since the 1970s.

Most MERV 8 filters are pleated. Pleating adds surface area to a filter and it makes it more effective at catching debris.

MERV 8 filters can be made of many different types of materials. The material your filter is made of will determine how often you should change it. For example, fiberglass filters should be changed once a month. HEPA filters only need to be changed every 90 days or so.


One of the most fundamental things an air filter should capture is dust. A MERV 8 filter will catch the largest and most dangerous dust particles. Many people have dust allergies and serious illnesses can result if the air filter in an HVAC system is not cleaning the major dust particles out of the air.


Mold particles start out at about 4 microns in size. Hence, a MERV 8 does a perfectly sufficient job of cleaning mold out of the air. This is very important because mold can cause major respiratory problems for people. It can be extremely dangerous for a person with asthma to live in a house that has mold.

Mold can also contribute to the deterioration of the structure of a home. If you have a lot of mold in your house, you may have to change your filter more frequently than you otherwise would.

Aerosol Sprays

When you clean your house, you probably use many aerosol sprays in the process. Those sprays can get your appliances clean and make everything look pretty. Some of them even smell pretty good. However, these sprays can be very dangerous to your health. Many of them contain xylene and formaldehyde which are known carcinogens. A MERV 8 filter will capture aerosol particles from the air.

A MERV 8 filter will keep the air in your home breathable. However, if you want exceptionally clean air in your home, or if somebody in your household suffers from allergies, it is best to get a filter with a higher rating.


Pollen is a powder-like substance that is produced by plants. It is composed of grains that produce sperm cells. When pollen is released into the air, it lands on other plants and fertilizes them. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to that airborne pollen.

Pollen can cause hay fever in people who are allergic. This is especially bad in the springtime. MERV 8 filters are not especially good at capturing pollen, so if you have allergies, you will want to get a higher-rated filter.


Virus particles are generally far smaller than 3.0 microns. A filter with a MERV rating of 13 can actually capture some viruses that are 1.0 microns. Although a MERV 13 cannot capture the coronavirus completely, it can capture 85% of coronavirus particles.

Having a filter in your HVAC system that can kill viruses is very valuable. Think of all the problems you could avoid if no one in your house got sick, or if they got sick much less often. MERV 13 can be a very good investment for the overall health of your family.

Chemical Fumes

Every day, you breathe in many different kinds of chemical fumes. These fumes can come from cigarettes, cars, and even the cement on the street. particles from fumes are very tiny. They are usually about 1.0 microns in size and are too small for a MERV 8 filter to capture.

Breathing in these fumes on a daily basis can be very harmful. It is even worse if they get into your home. Only a MERV 13-rated filter will truly be able to keep these pollutants out of your house.

Most people do not sit around thinking about air conditioning filters. However, having a top-quality air filter can make a major difference in the comfort and safety of your home. If you invest in a good filter and change it regularly, you will feel more energetic and get sick less often.