MERV 16 Filters: How Well Do They Keep Viruses and Pollutants Out of Your Home’s Air

Kenneth Wilson

When it comes time to choose a home air filtration system, it is essential to select a filter that will suit your needs. The MERV rating system is handy for this purpose, and the higher the rating, the more efficient the filtration will be.

Having clean air in your home is essential to living a healthy life and maintaining a high quality of life.

Let's look at MERV ratings, but more specifically, MERV 16 filters and how effective they are in filtering out viruses and pollutants from the air in your home.

What is the MERV Rating System?

The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values) rating system is a great reference when picking a filter for your home or business. Choosing the right air purification system and the right air filter is crucial to keep yourself and anyone who enters your home or business safe from airborne illnesses.

The rating that is given to a filter denotes the best for your needs. The rating indicates the size and type of particles the filter will catch and remove from your air. The higher the rating, the smaller the particle that will be captured. (Related: Is it Worth Spending More Money on An Air Filter with a Higher MERV Rating?)

MERV Rating Chart

  • MERV 14: Filters that are often used in homes. They can filter out dust, pollen, and small particles like fibers from clothing or carpets—best for particles that are 10 microns.
  • MERV 58: Any particles between the size 3 and 10 microns will be trapped with this filter, including the particles above as well as lint and mold.
  • MERV 9–12: These filters are of higher quality and can trap particles as small as 1 to 3 microns. Including all the particles mentioned earlier plus fuel emissions and lead particles.
  • MERV 13–16: These are the highest quality filters. Filtering particles as small as 0.03 microns in size, including bacteria, respiratory droplets, and tobacco smoke.

The Importance of Improving your Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is affected by many factors and can be 5x more polluted than the air outside. Since it has nowhere to go, the air can become stale and of poor quality quickly in your home. There are several ways to improve your home's air quality, such as increasing circulation, regular vacuuming, and dusting, and using a quality air filter.

Some benefits of improving your air quality in your home are:

  • Reduce viruses in the air. Using a quality air filter can drastically reduce airborne illnesses from circulating through your home.
  • Pest prevention. Some pests love dust, mold, and dirt, and removing those elements from your home will make your home inhospitable for those pests.
  • Allergy relief. If you feel like you always have a cold, your air quality may be poor and bother your allergies.
  • Pet dander. All pets shed dander, and using a good air filter will help remove the dander from the air.
  • Improved sleep. Breathing in clean air will help you sleep better without any irritants keeping you up at night.
  • Energy-efficient. Helping to reduce humidity can help to reduce your heating and cooling bills.
  • Increased property value. Using a good quality air filter will help to keep pests, mold, and humidity at bay and, in turn, keep your property value high.
  • More downtime. Using a quality air filter will drastically reduce the need to dust, giving you more time for activities you enjoy.

MERV 16 Filters and Viruses

Using a high-quality air filter can effectively remove viruses from the air and prevent people in the home from breathing in contaminated air. A MERV 16 filter can capture particles as small as 0.03 microns with a 98% efficiency. Making this filter perfect for anyone with allergies, breathing problems, compromised immune systems or anyone concerned with removing viruses and other impurities from the air.

If someone in your house comes down with a cold, using a MERV 16 air filter can drastically reduce the chances of others becoming ill in the home.

Incorporating an air purifier and utilizing other strategies, you can quickly clear your home of viruses, some additional measures to take when someone in your household is sick:

  • Isolate the person who is sick from the others in the home; keeping them in one room will isolate the virus from the rest of the house.
  • Place an air purifier in the room to capture any particles flying around in the air.
  • Run the air purifier 24/7 on the highest setting.
  • Keep the air purifier clear of anything that could obstruct its airflow, like furniture or curtains.
  • When changing the filter, take the air purifier outside if possible, and be sure to wear gloves and a mask. Don't forget to disinfect the outside of the purifier.

MERV 16 Filters and Pollutants

Using a MERV 16 filter in your home to improve air quality can efficiently remove common pollutants from the air. Helping you and your loved one's breathe easier and reducing any breathing problems or allergies in your home.

Some common pollutants found in the house that can affect the air quality are:

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Mold
  • Hair spray
  • Cement dust
  • Pet dander
  • Car fumes

Capturing these tiny particles with a 98% efficiency, the difference will be noticeable, and breathing will be easier in your home.

Types of Air Filters for Your Home

A few questions you should consider while choosing a filter for your home are:

  • Do you or someone in your household have allergies or respiratory problems?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Are there three or more people living in your home?
  • Do you smoke inside the home?

The more you answer yes to the higher MERV rating of a filter you should consider. There are endless choices when it comes to filters to improve the air quality in your home.

Here are four more common filters that are found for home air purifications:

  1. 1
    High-efficiency Particle Air Filters (HEPA): If you or a loved one suffer from a respiratory condition or allergies, investing in a HEPA filter with a high MERV rating would be well worth the money. These are some of the best filters for your home.
  2. 2
    Pleated Air Filters: These filters generally have a MERV rating of around 5 or above and are distinguishable by their appearance. As the name suggests, they are pleated, like an accordion look, and they are made from paper, cotton, and polyester.
  3. 3
    Fiberglass Air Filters: These filters are very common due to being low-cost, disposable, and efficient. They rate in the range of 1 -4 on the MERV rating scale.
  4. 4
    Ultraviolet Light Filters: Highly efficient in killing bacteria and viruses the UV light is efficient in killing germs and returning clean air back into circulation in your home. UV filters can vary in their MERV rating but are very efficient.

Pros and Cons of using MERV 16 Filters


  • Professionals have developed the MERV rating system at the ASHRAE to ensure accuracy.
  • MERV rating is inclusive and very defined to ensure that the rating is a true reflection of the filter's efficiency.
  • The testing done on filters to gauge the effectiveness of the filter is thorough and is performed with particles ranging in sizes from 0.03 to 10 microns to cover airborne pollutants found in homes most commonly


  • The filters must be adequately maintained to ensure there is no clogging, which can have a negative impact on airflow.
  • MERV filters with a rating above 11 are excellent for trapping small particles, including viruses and pollutants but can put a strain on your filtration system.

Final Thoughts

MERV 16 filters are very effective when it comes to removing viruses and pollutants from the air in your home. If you or a loved one in your home suffer from allergies or respiratory problems, using a filter with a MERV 16 rating would be recommended for your home.

Using a filter of this high quality does come with a tighter maintenance schedule to maintain efficiency, but you will have noticeably cleaner air in your home.

Kenneth Wilson
December 8, 2021
HVAC, Interior

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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