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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Operations > Filtration

HEPA Filters for Small Particle Filtration of Air

Designed to be highly efficient with small particles, HEPA filters can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles in well designed HEPA filtration sytems.

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High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters

Designed to be highly efficient with small particles, HEPA filters can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 micrometers (µm) in diameter. Small particles are the most difficult to filter.

HEPA filters must be correctly installed in a filter housing or frame to achieve proper results.

HEPA filters are composed of a mat of randomly arranged fibres. Key metrics affecting function are fibre density and diameter, and filter thickness. The air space between HEPA filter fibres is much greater than 0.3 μm.

The original HEPA filter was designed in the 1940s and was used in the Manhattan Project to prevent the spread of airborne radioactive contaminants. It was commercialized in the 1950s, and the original term became a registered trademark and a generic term for highly efficient filters.

Over the decades filters have evolved to satisfy the higher and higher demands for air quality in various high technology industries, such as aerospace, pharmaceutical processing, hospitals, health care, nuclear fuels, nuclear power, and electronic microcircuitry (computer chips).

Today, a HEPA filter rating is applicable to any highly efficient air filter that can attain the same filter efficiency performance standards as a minimum and is equivalent to the more recent NIOSH N100 rating for respirator filters. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has specific requirements for HEPA filters in DOE regulated applications. Products that claim to be "HEPA-type", "HEPA-like", or "99% HEPA" do not satisfy these requirements and may not be tested in independent laboratories.

HEPA Filter Applications

HEPA Filters in Health Care

HEPA filters prevent the spread of airborne bacterial and viral organisms and, therefore, infection. Medical applications of HEPA filtration systems also incorporate high-energy ultra-violet light units to kill off the live bacteria and viruses trapped by the fine HEPA filter media.

HEPA Filters in Vacuum Cleaners

HEPA filters can be included in vacuum cleaners as part of their filtration systems. HEPA particulate filtration is beneficial for asthma and allergy sufferers, because the HEPA filter traps fine particles such as pollen and dust mite feces which trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. The HEPA vacuum cleaner must be designed so that all the air drawn into the machine is expelled through the filter, with none of the air leaking past it. This is often referred to as "Sealed HEPA" design. Vacuum cleaners simply labeled HEPA have a HEPA filter, but not all air necessarily passes through it.

Vacuum cleaner filters marketed as "HEPA-like" typically use a filter similar to HEPA, but without equal filtering efficiency. Extra density of a HEPA filter in vacuum cleaners requires more powerful motors to provide adequate cleaning power.

HEPA Design and Labeling for Respirator Filters

A HEPA filter rating is applicable to any highly efficient air filter that can achiee the same filter efficiency performance standards as a minimum and is equivalent to the more recent National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (or NIOSH) N100 rating for respirator filters. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has specific requirements for HEPA filters in DOE regulated applications. Products that claim to be "HEPA-type", "HEPA-like", or "99% HEPA" do not satisfy these requirements and may not be tested in independent laboratories.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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