An air filter is an important component of your car, and it's not a good idea to drive without one. It helps keep all types of debris out of the climate control system and keeps the cabin air clean and safe to breathe. According to a study, the average American spends 225 hours a year traveling, so it's important to make sure that the air you're breathing in your car is free from pollutants. Driving without an air filter can lead to small leaves and garbage getting stuck in the system, depending on how large the inlet is to let in fresh air.
There are no health risks associated with this, but it's still not recommended. You may also experience an unpleasant smell coming from the air conditioner if your air filters are not working properly. Not all cars come with cabin air filters, but it's still not a good idea to drive without one. While there won't be any direct impact on engine performance, you may be exposing yourself and your family to potential respiratory problems.
If you can't buy a new filter due to work, make sure to clean it regularly so that you can enjoy clean and safe air while driving.