Air pump pre-filter
I'm just throwing this out here for the folks who like to fiddle. You can filter the air going through your air pump by following this simple technique. Take a 2 liter soda bottle and drill two holes big enough to fit standard aquarium tubing snugly in the cap. Keep it as air tight as possible using silicone caulk if necessary. Fill the bottle halfway with water. Run the tubing from your air pump down into the water through one hole and run tubing above the water line in the other going to the tank.
Since most air pumps have built in air filters (most often a cotton pad) this would seem pointless. Also, since most household air pollutants (smoke, hair spray ...) are gases, pumping the air through water would not prevent them from going into the tank.
i would think a carbon pre-filter would be more effective? then again i would think altering the air flow may harm the pump? any "air filter" however doesnt prevent debris, dust, and/or air pollutants from entering your tank from the top, filter, and disrupted surface of what your water bubbler is doing in the first place, disrupting surface water tension to allow for better gas exchange, not so much pump air into your water. i would think using carbon in your filter for a short period would be the most effective option. ofcourse, just my opinion.
What I described is a crude copy of an apparatus shown in Exotic Tropical Fishes by Herbert Axelrod. It is a rather old book, so some of the concerns addressed back then with a bottle of water and two pipettes have more than likely been addressed in other ways as you all have explained. As I said, this is a little project to do if you like to do such things. It causes no harm and the cost is next to nothing.
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