High-efficiency particulate air filters, otherwise known as HEPA filters, are a type of pleated mechanical filter designed to remove allergens and other airborne matter from within a home or building.
Of course, HEPA filters didn’t always exist as a mere HVAC component, and today they’re certainly capable of giving traditional filters a run for their money.
Thus, below you’ll find the history of the HEPA filter, as well as what makes them unique in comparison to other air filters often found in most buildings:
History of the HEPA Filter
The origins of the HEPA filter can be traced back to the 1940s, where the government was working on it as a classified project during World War II to help protect soldiers from warfare agents that were biological, chemical, and radiological in nature.
According to a review published by the Journal of the American Biological Safety Association, one of the first descriptions of an early-stage air HEPA filter was eventually published in The 1952 Handbook on Air Cleaning by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (USAEC).
Originally designed for gas masks, HEPA filters were once composed of an asbestos and “coarse cellulose fiber” mesh, which was supposed to do most of the air filtration for the wearer, as well as provide mechanical strength to the mask itself.
HEPA Filters Today
Today, HEPA filters are more known for their impressive ability to cleanse potentially hazardous particulate matter from circulated air within one’s home or office, rather than for their historical use in warfare.
But if nothing else, this history indicates the strength with which it was designed to protect people. And today, that strength makes them an advantageous tool for those suffering from respiratory complications and/or those residing in areas of high environmental pollution.
In fact, HEPA filters are far more likely to remove contaminants from the air than the average air filter.
“This type of air filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm),” as explained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “The diameter specification of 0.3 microns responds to the worst case; the most penetrating particle size (MPPS).”
When A HEPA Filter Isn’t Enough
“… Biological aerosols are not likely to become an airborne infectious problem once removed by a HEPA filter (or other high-efficiency filter material),” according to an air cleaning and filtration guide written by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The key phrase mentioned above? “Not likely.” This means there is still the potential for hazardous particulate matter to become airborne in a given space, even with a HEPA filter.
The loading of viruses can change at any given moment based on HEPA performance, human activity, the introduction of new sources, airflow, and more. Thus, detecting the presence of that matter is often the challenging part and should be done more frequently because of changing factors. Placement of HEPA filters is key, and source tracking can be done with the InstaScope.
The InstaScope is a powerful, state-of-the-art tool designed to equip inspectors, building managers, and disinfection professionals with the ability to gauge in real-time the volume of airborne biological contaminants in a building. The InstaScope can also complete these measurements an unlimited number of times in one session — as well as before and after cleaning in multiple sessions — giving valuable information that can help determine if cleaning and filtration efforts were successful. Inform spot filtration protocols as well by grabbing microbes in certain higher concentrated areas identified by the InstaScope.
If you’re seeking to identify the efficacy of the filtration system in your clients’ homes or commercial buildings, the InstaScope provides you with invaluable information to do so safely, efficiently, and in a user-friendly manner. To learn more about how the InstaScope functions, contact DetectionTek today by calling 720-410-7030 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!