What is HEPA Filter? An Overview

what is hepa filterContrary to what many people think, air pollution isn’t something that happens outside our homes.

A lot of us are misinformed, believing that being indoors protects you from air pollution. But the truth is that even inside the confines of your house or workplace, there are still air pollutants (microorganisms too) that you have to worry about. Dust, molds, bacteria, viruses and smoke are just a few sources of indoor air pollution. The trouble is, these pollutants are hardly noticeable and we are continuously exposed to them day in, day out. Exposure to these pollutants can contribute to allergies, asthma and even other health conditions.

Read which is the best air purifier for asthma and allergies .

Another problem with these air contaminants is that they are difficult to get rid of. Even if you use vacuum cleaner, they are still there, just trapped inside the bag or filter waiting to be circulated again. This is where HEPA filters come to the picture.

When you come across any machine that uses HEPA filter, you’ll instantly notice that it gets a higher price tag compared to non-HEPA filter implementation. As such, many people wonder if it is indeed necessary or just hype.

What exactly is HEPA air filter? How does it work? Is it necessary? These are just a few questions many are probably asking when they encounter HEPA labels on product specifications.

What is HEPA filter?

HEPA is the acronym for High-Efficiency Particulate Air or High-Energy Particulate Arresting. This specialized air filtration technology was originally used in medical and industrial facilities that required medical-grade air quality. Now, they are available for use even in home setting and are highly recommended. HEPA filter technology is utilized in air purifiers, air filters, vacuum cleaners and even HVAC systems.

There are many different kinds of filters and they each come with many claims and benefits. But what sets HEPA filters apart is that they claim to trap almost 99.97% of air particulates 0.3 microns or larger. That means it can trap even the smallest microorganisms that circulate indoor are. Some of the best HEPA filters can even filter particles small than the 0.3 microns threshold.

Micron is a unit of measurement that is one-millionth of a meter –meaning that’s ultra-microscopic and not detectable to the eye. Some of the most common indoor air particulates have the following micro-measurements: car emissions are from 1 to 150 microns, viruses from 0.005 to 0.3 microns, bacteria from 0.3 to 60 microns, mold 3 to 12 microns, tobacco smoke from 0.01 to 4 microns, dust from 10 to 1000 microns. HEPA filters can trap almost all of these air contaminants, thus helping ensure a safe and healthy indoor air for your home.

How do HEPA filters work?

HEPA filters work by trapping air particulates in its complex sheaths of fibers. Depending on the size of the pollutant, HEPA filters traps the particulate through diffusion, inertial impaction, interception, or sieving. Large air pollutants are trapped through sieving and inertial impaction. In this method, the particulates collide with the fibers and become trapped to it. HEPA filter fibers grab or intercept medium-sized particulates as they move through the filter. Smaller contaminants dissipate through the complex web of fibers, eventually colliding with a fiber where they become trapped.

But while HEPA filters work the same mechanism, not all HEPA filters are the same. These filters have significant differences based on their utilization and composition. For instance, there are HEPA filters that are coupled with other advanced technology such as an ionizer that charges particulates with a negative electrostatic charge for better filtration. There also HEPA filters that are claimed to be capable of reducing contaminants. Still, there are HEPA filters that use nanotechnology (called nanofibers) that enables it to stop particulates as small as 0.003 microns.

Air purifier technologies use HEPA filters in conjunction with other technologies such as activated carbon, UV technology, ionizing, and ozone technology. Other manufacturers use only HEPA filters in their application. Whichever you end up choosing, having a basic knowledge of what to expect would be helpful.

What are its benefits?

HEPA filtration benefits your household in so many ways. It offers a frontline defense against asthma and other allergy conditions due to air contaminants. It protects you against airborne diseases such as the flu, tuberculosis, and other respiratory viral and bacterial infections.

Moreover, by removing microscopic air contaminants, it can greatly enhance indoor air quality. It can help remove odor from cigarette smoke or from vehicles. When used in vacuum cleaners, it guarantees removal of fine particles that are otherwise re-circulated back into the air.

With HEPA technology, you are guaranteed that you and your loved ones breathe only fresh, clean and safe air. It should also give you peace of mind knowing that the air inside your home is not as polluted as that outside.

With HEPA technology in your home, you can go ahead and take a deep breath!

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