HEPA filters have been working behind the scenes for many years in laboratories, hospital isolation wards, operating rooms, and in other areas where the cleansing of the air of contaminants is critical for human health and safety. HEPA filters were invented by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) during the Second World War. Researchers who were experimenting, and otherwise working with, radioactive materials needed an air filter that would efficiently remove and hold onto radioactive dust from the air inside the laboratories.
HEPA filters and products containing them, such as home air purifiers and upright vacuum cleaners, have only been available to the public for the last decade or so. HEPA or “High-Efficiency Particle Arrestor”, as the letters stand for, is known for its outstanding performance in removing harmful micro-organisms from the air that we breathe. When this type of filter is used on an air purifying system, it can successfully trap up to 99.99% of every ten thousand particles that are floating around in the air.
These particles can be about anything from bacteria, germs, viruses, dust, pet dander, pollen, mold, smoke, dust mites, et cetera. That is the reason HEPA filters are recommended by more medical doctors than any other type of filter. On top of that, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have endorsed the HEPA filter as being the absolute best filter in cleansing the air. The only thing that a HEPA filter cannot remove from the air is a vapor or a gas.
A HEPA filter works pretty much the same way any other filter in an air purifying system works. Basically, the unit pulls air from the room into it with a powerful fan blower through a louvered grill. The air is then passed through the filter, and most of the micro – organisms and particles are removed from it. Then, the filtered air is blown out of the purifier by a fan from a different louvered grill.
The difference between a HEPA filter and any other filter is that it is made of thin fibers of glass. The fibers are formed into a thick paper – like material that is pleated. This means that a HEPA filter has a great amount of glass – paper in it. As the particles in the untreated air try to pass through the thick surface, they cannot, and they instead tend to adhere to it. Thus, the air that leaves this type of air purifying system is cleansed and almost totally free from contaminants.
The germs, bacteria, and viruses that are trapped in a HEPA filter will eventually die because they cannot live in a moisture-free environment. The only way they can thrive, keep growing and multiplying, is if the air that is entering the filter is moist.
If you or someone else in your home has allergies or asthma, a HEPA air purifier can undoubtedly make a difference in your lives. Studies show that young, asthmatic children who had HEPA air cleaners in their bedrooms for almost four months showed a lesser amount of asthma symptoms.
Even if asthma or allergies are not a problem to your family, just breathing clean air can be an added bonus in itself. Plus, an air purifier with a HEPA filter can also reduce the amount of dust in your home. This can make keeping your home clean a little bit easier.