Close up of air filter

HEPA filters, or high-efficiency particulate air filters, remove a lot of debris and small particles from the air. There is some confusion over exactly what one of these filters can do, partly because there are different standards for HEPA filters in North America and Europe. Here we’ll discuss the North American HEPA filters and what they can remove from the air.

What Size Particles do HEPA Filters Remove?

You can think of a HEPA filter like a very, very small strainer. It removes particles from the air based on size. If the particle is too small, it will slip through the filter, along with oxygen. However, most particles that homeowners are worried about are too large and will get trapped in the filter, resulting in much cleaner air. So, in order to understand what HEPA filters remove from the air, you need to know what size particles they remove.

The minimum efficiency a filter can achieve (and still be called a HEPA filter) is to capture 99.97% of the particles that are 0.03 microns small. This is incredibly tiny, at 0.000012 inches. Particles that are this small include many bacteria, viruses, allergens, pet dander, car emissions, mold and mold spores.

What if you also want to capture smells, volatile organic compounds, or other particles that cannot be captured by a HEPA filter alone? Many HEPA filters use another technology, like activated carbon or UV technology, to destroy or capture these other contaminants in your air. You don’t need to go to an extreme measure, like buying a ULPA filter, to get the performance you want.

Someone checking the air quality near a HEPA filter

The Difference Between a HEPA and ULPA Filter

Have you heard of a ULPA filter? These Ultra-low particulate air filters remove a higher percentage of even smaller particles from the air than a HEPA filter. In fact, they remove 99.99% of particles as small as 0.12 micrometres. While this may sound great, filtration of this size isn’t practical for a homeowner. ULPA filters are supposed to remove tiny particles from the air in healthcare settings and other biological applications. For example, ULPA filters may be used to create clean rooms, where those who do not currently have an immune system can be kept as safe as possible. Of course, more goes into these clean rooms than just ULPA filters.

Further, the smaller viruses and bacteria that a HEPA filter cannot capture, but a ULPA filter can capture, typically travel in droplets of water from coughs and sneezes. They therefore can still be captured by HEPA filters.

If you’ve been spending a lot of time indoors, breathing in fresh, pure air is important. Achieve that crisp air with a HEPA filter. You can learn more about HEPA filters and how they can help keep your home clean by contacting us today.

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