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    How Exactly Does HEPA Filtration Work

    How Exactly Does HEPA Filtration Work

    HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance, filters are one of the most commonly advertised features in high end quality air purifiers. As with most things, not all HEPA filters are created equal, nor are they able to do everything you may need in an air filter. This article will briefly explain how HEPA filters work and also what they cannot do.

    To be classified as a true HEPA filter, it must meet the standards of the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technologies. Basically these standards require that the filter can remove 99.9 percent particulate matter at a minimum of 3 microns in size. In layperson’s terms, it gets rid of most of the dirt and dust that circulates throughout your home.

    The way the HEPA filters are able to do this is through the use of uniquely designed glass fibers that allow air to flow through the fibers while trapping the dust and airborne contaminants by causing them to “stick” to the glass fibers. This is generally done through a three stage process.

    1) A primary filter is used to catch the biggest particles moving through the air stream. The real work of the glass fibers would be significantly reduced if it was quickly clogged up by the larger particles.

    2) The continuing air stream then meets with the glass fibers. It is here where the smaller particles either get trapped by the fibers themselves or are caught when coming into contact with particles that have already been trapped.

    3) The decontaminated air is then released back into your living environment with a significantly reduced amount of pollutants.

    It is important to know that HEPA filters cannot do everything to scrub you air completely clean. HEPA is designed to trap particles, but not odors from chemicals or non-particulate matter. This means the best HEPA filter systems will contain a charcoal activated filter to remove unwanted odors and smells. (Note: If you hear or see the term “VOC” is means it is a Volatile Organic Compound commonly found in your home from chemicals such as bathroom cleaners and air fresheners.)

    The bottom line to all this is to be sure to know what a HEPA filter actually can and cannot do – and how it does it. When you are shopping for the best air filtering system it is almost a must to have a true HEPA filter in the unit. The top of the line systems will have a HEPA and charcoal activated filter as a complete unit to give you the cleanest air possible throughout the day.

    How to determine the performance of an Air Purifier

    How to determine the performance of an Air Purifier

    How to determine the performance of an air of an Air Purifier relies on three factors namely; Air flow, performance and Air Changes per Hour and Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). The Air Flow rate indicates how much air goes through the air purifier over a given period of time. Air being gas can either be measured in volume or its mass. Manufacturers who produce Air cleaners however, are interested in volume. Air purifier flow is abbreviated to cubic feet per minute(CFM). Air flow is dependent on two factors: Efficiency of the filter inside it and the power of the fan built in it.
    Air changes per Hour(ACH) is another determinant of the performance of the Air Purifier. It indicates how many times the entire volume of air in a room is replaced within one hour. The higher the changes in numbers the better of course! The number of changes mostly varies in between 1 and 7(7 being the highest and not to mention the most efficient!).
    Clean Air Delivery Rate(CADR) is used to a filter’s ability to remove all pollutants expressed in cubic feet per minute. It can be a little bit confusing due to the fact that Ai purifiers are not created equal and therefore there is a variance in CADR rating. What you should know however, is that there ALWAYS should be three figures; one for pollen, smoke, and another for dust. These ratings are an excellent way indicators on how efficient any model is at dealing with the above pollutants. For instance, you would require a higher rated Air purifier if pollen is an issue for you over cigarette smoke.
    Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers(AHAM), came up with CADR ratings to establish some standards for all purifiers. Since the CADR ratings are measured differently and into portable units, they are never given out for whole-house. They are highly dependable too since organizations like EPA rely heavily on the ratings that AHAM hands out (327)
    i. Fisk, William J (2001) “The performance and costs of particle Air Filtration technology” (PDF)
    ii. H.M Ang, M Tade, S Wang. (2007) “Volatile organic compounds in the indoor environment and photo-catalytic oxidation”.
    iii. Residential Air cleaners (2009) United States Environmental Protection Agency (PDF) (2 Ed.)

    How Air Purifiers use Specific Treatments for Odor and Pollutants

    How Air Purifiers use Specific Treatments for Odor and Pollutants

    Air purifiers have been formulated to operate differently. Some have been designed formulated to neutralize smells and odors in our living spaces while others work to balance air particles while destroying any harmful particles. Specifications for each air purifier are different providing temporary or permanent solutions for pollutants and odors. Each cleaner tackles a specific pollutant in its own different way. Let us consider each pollutant at a time.
    There are different kinds of odors and definitely different techniques of eliminating each of them:
    Cigarette smoke
    This smoke consists of fine chemically-based particles. These are best eliminated using ozone generators which is excellent at eliminating odors due to cigarette smoke and old furniture. You may also opt to use air cleaners that contain activated carbon filters which react chemically and attach to the smoke particles. Photocatalytic filters are also excellent at breaking down the chemicals in smoke that produce an odor.

    Volatile Organic Compounds
    Common producers of VOC are bacteria, smoke, formaldehyde and mold. The most effective purifiers for such contaminants are air purifiers containing carbon filters, photocatalytic filters and ozone sanitizers.
    Household Chemicals and Pet Odors
    Household chemicals used to sanitize our living spaces might work against us by releasing unpleasant odors and toxic fumes. The best solution here is using air cleaners that contain activated carbon filters. Oxidation filters also perform an excellent job. Similar solutions work well to unpleasant odors left behind by our beloved pets.

    Air Pollutants
    Air pollutants are solid particles that float around the air. Examples include dust, dust mites and pollen. If you want to eliminate these, then all you require is a HEPA filter, which has been recommended as a perfect filter for creating an allergen-free, safe environment. If dust is the main problem, another solution would be using ionizers which attracts the dust particles.