The impregnated active carbon used in air purification systems degrades over time due to exposure to contamination and mechanical effects (packing, settling, flow channeling, etc.). A novel approach is proposed to detect contamination in active carbon filters by combining the electromechanical impedance spectroscopy (EMIS) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (ECIS). ECIS is currently being used to evaluate active carbon filtration material; however, it cannot differentiate the impedance changes due to chemical contamination from those due to mechanical changes. EMIS can detect impedance changes due to mechanical changes. For the research work presented in this paper, Piezoelectric wafer active sensor (PWAS) was used for the EMIS method. Some remarkable new phenomena were unveiled in the detection of carbon filter status. 1. PWAS EMIS can detect the presence of contaminants, such as water and kerosene in the carbon bed 2. PWAS EMIS can monitor changes in mechanical pressure that may be associated with carbon bed packing, settling and flow channeling 3. EMIS and ECIS measurements are consistent with each other and complimentary A tentative simplified impedance model was created to simulate the PWAS-carbon bed system under increasing pressure. Similar impedance change pattern was observed when comparing the simulation results with experimental data.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.