Advertisers and merchandisers today use many terms that are never really defined or explained to sell the average consumer their products or services. One of the most interesting I think is the acronym HEPA which stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. Most people understand the word to refer to filters which are regarded as especially effective, but I feel reasonably sure that most buyers don’t realize that the HEPA filter systems had their beginnings in 1942 during the Manhattan Project, a secret project of the US War Department to gather atomic materials for a bomb. As the contamination of the air became a concern, scientists began to consider ways to clean it. The advancements they made were later released to the public. Today HEPA filters are everywhere from inside airplanes to inside vacuum cleaners. They are especially helpful in places like hospitals where they help remove bacteria and viruses, in laboratories, at pharmaceutical companies, in nuclear power plants, and even in the space program. The bottom line is that it seems that wherever the need for an absolutely clean atmosphere is, the name Hepa isn’t usually that far away…even if it is an imitator.
One of the most common uses in the home for this type of filtration is to remove dust, smoke, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens that contaminate the air and lead to illness. The system operates using a coarse fiberglass filter which cleans the air by attracting small particles that stick to the fiber as air passes through it. Standards for the efficiency of these filters are very high and are set by the US Department of Energy. If a product claims to be HEPA style, HEPA like, or HEPA type, you should be aware that it may not meet the government standards. In fact, some companies now use the term True HEPA to reassure their customers of their products’ standards.
Some homeowners choose to install a filtration system in their HVAC system to purify their entire home, while others use room air purifiers. Some systems also use UV (ultraviolet) light to kill viral organisms, bacteria, and mold spores. Since HEPA filters don’t remove gases and odor molecules, a carbon or charcoal filter may be added to the HEPA system to take care of these.It’s good to know a few basics as you consider what you should do about the presence of contaminants and pollutants at your business or in your home that may cause you or your family health problems. Anybody who has ever had to deal with a mold remediation, whether in your home or office, has probably already seen a HEPA air filtration system being used as it is one of the most common methods of removing mold spores from a home. Of course, it’s also a good idea to consult professionals you can trust to share their expertise and guide you further as you make such important choices.