Air moving through most any building has to pass through an air filter. Most air filters will capture larger particles. Some filters catch the smaller particles, but not all. Your air filter alone can improve the quality of the air you breathe. The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of a filter tells you a lot about how well it’s going to filter your air. The higher the MERV rating, the more it filters your air.
Homes, commercial buildings, and hospitals generally have MERV 16 and below filters. Operating rooms and anywhere that requires a completely sterile environment use MERV 17-20.
Your first thought maybe that you want a filter with the highest possible MERV rating, but that’s not always the best answer. Furnaces and air handlers have a recommended MERV rating, however, HVAC systems are only built to handle a certain amount of airflow resistance. The higher the MERV rating, the more difficult it becomes to push air through the filter.
Utilizing a filter with the highest MERV rating that your system is rated for will improve your air quality. Beyond that, an air cleaner, an air purifier or a UV light will help you achieve your air quality goals. Room air purifiers are a good start, but a whole-house air purification system will work a lot better than anything free-standing.