HEPA Filters: Why They Matter

The fact is: HEPA filters matter. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are used for a number of reasons including to control allergens and microbes in hospitals and laboratories, in sensitive manufacturing facilities and in facilities that need to be protected from agents of bioterrorism.

Busy doctors prepering surgeryFor a filter to carry the name “HEPA” it must meet certain guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Energy. The most basic guideline for a filter to qualify as a HEPA filter is that it must remove 99.97% of all contaminants from the air that are at least .3 microns in diameter.

A micron is 1 millionth of a meter. To give you an idea just how small a micron is, consider that a human hair is about 100 microns wide. A tobacco smoke particle is usually between .01 to 1 micron, and most bacteria particles fall in the .35 to 10 micron range.

Any particles smaller than 10 microns are invisible to the human eye. So a particle of only .3 microns is extremely small, and HEPA filters can capture many particulates of that size.

HEPA filters are made up of a mat-like material with fibers. The fibers must be arranged precisely so that particles stick to the fibers in one of three ways, according to IAQSource.com:

1. Interception: this is the first line of defense, where most particles in the air flow stream naturally adhere to the fibers.

2. Impaction: this is the second line of defense, where the particles that are too large for interception are trapped in the curved contours of the fibers.

3. Diffusion: this is the final defense, which traps molecules that are too small for either interception or impaction by forcing them to collide with gas molecules.

One of the earliest uses of HEPA filters in vacuums was for asbestos removal. HEPA filters have also been used in lead paint abatement projects. Most recently, HEPA vacuums are being used in a variety of industries to protect the health and safety of workers and residents.

The use of HEPA filters is most often encouraged in situations where adequate IAQ (indoor air quality) is of the utmost importance. In most commercial facilities, IAQ has become a high priority because poor IAQ negatively affects the health of people suffering from allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Most vacuums capture dust, dander and pollen from the surface being cleaned, but they discharge smaller particles back into the air where occupants can breathe them in. HEPA vacuums are able to trap the small particles so they are removed from the air.

HEPA vacuums are a critical part of a cleaning program in any industry. HEPA vacuums improve IAQ, remove debris and control the amount of harmful contaminants in the air. Using a HEPA vacuum to routinely clean a building can reduce the pollutants that cause sick building syndrome.

When a building is classified as sick, inhabitants often feel sick when they are in the building. Biological pollutants that cause sick building syndrome include mold, dust mites, viruses/bacteria, pollen and insect body parts.

HEPA vacuums can trap about 99.7% of all mold and bacteria, and prevent the negative impact – eye irritation, nasal stuffiness, skin irritation and breathing problems – such contaminants can have on building occupants.

Goodway offers a variety of innovative HEPA vacuums, including portable solutions. Every Goodway HEPA vacuum is certified HEPA, all the way up to .012 microns. Some of our vacuums are great for everyday cleaning, while others are best suited for industrial use. All of our vacuums offer a full assortment of accessories and they can tackle a wide range of applications.

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One comment


  • Interesting stuff here…have never given much thought to HEPA filters before.

    September 6, 2013

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