HEPA Vacuum Filter HEPA Vacuum Filter

A HEPA vacuum filter is a designation or rating for a filter that meets standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy.  It stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air filter. It was first designed during the 1940’s to prevent the spread of radioactive airborne particles. HEPA filters were utilized with the pharmaceutical, medical, electronics and military industries. They eventually became commonplace as the gold standard for filtration and became widely used in household environments.

Type versus a True HEPA Filter

There are HEPA “type” filters available on the market and they perform in ways similar to a true HEPA filter, but the standards are stringent and must be met in order for a filter use the HEPA designation. A true HEPA filter screens out 99.97% of particles of .3 microns in size. Other HEPA knock-offs only filter out 80-90% of particles the size of 1 micron. A simple way to tell the difference between the HEPA wannabe and the genuine article is to simply check the label. It will either say true HEPA, or it will provide the rating—remember it’s 99.97%.  nything else is not HEPA. They make HEPA filters for both upright and canister type vacuums.

Who Benefits?

HEPA filters are especially beneficial for asthma and allergy sufferers, because the HEPA filter traps fine particles such as dust mites and pollen. HEPA filters also catch other toxic materials such as asbestos, lead and beryllium. HEPA filters can be expensive—and washable HEPA filters more expensive still—so it’s important to know a little about the vacuum’s design, so that you get the greatest benefit from your HEPA vacuum.

While a HEPA filter is highly efficient, it can only do so much on its own. If the vacuum’s designed poorly, you’ll get leakage through gaps around openings. This dirty air which bypasses the HEPA filter gets spewed back out into your house. The same thing occurs when using vacuum cleaner attachments. Once these toxic and allergens bypass the filter, they either get trapped in the vacuum cleaner bag, which cannot contain these micro-particles. They get circulated back into the vacuum’s exhaust system and you wind up with a high velocity output of these particles back into the air. The other problem is that once a dust bag becomes about 1/3 full, the particles clog up the pores of the bag, which puts a strain on the motor. Not only do you lose suction power, but you reduce the life of the motor.

The best solution is to look for “sealed” HEPA vacuum cleaners. As you can guess by now, they will be more expensive. But they work better and last longer. These vacuums are designed to ensure that all of the air passes through the filter and is then sealed in a better dust bag configuration.

Whether you have carpets, rugs, synthetic or hardwood floors, dust and allergens lurk everywhere. Many people suffer from very mild allergic reactions—not enough to be identifiable—but bad enough to cause irritations, minor allergic reactions, and so on. If you have young children in the household, they are being exposed to these allergens. In multi-family units, such as apartments and condos, this exposure can increase significantly due to airborne particles that can permeate a building structure.  If you or even your neighbor has pets, dander, fleas, mites, and pet hair are all easily airborne. Investing in a good HEPA vacuum can reap good dividends for your health.

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