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When you’re curious about how to remove airborne particles indoors, you may be asking, “How do HEPA filters work?”

HEPA filters are a popular and effective air filtration technology used in mechanical air purifiers. When used properly, filters that use HEPA filtration technology effectively clean the air in your home, leading to better health and wellness for you and your loved ones. Reducing indoor air pollution can improve sleep, strengthen your immune system, and provide relief from asthma and allergies. That’s why an estimated one in four households in the United States rely on a portable air purifier.

Read on to learn more about HEPA filters from the indoor air quality experts at Alen.

What Is a HEPA Air Filter?

You have probably heard of HEPA air filters, but most people don’t know much about this technology. HEPA is an acronym for “high-efficiency particulate air.” It refers to a filtration technology that must capture at least 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in size. Smaller and larger particles are trapped at an even higher rate.

HEPA filters are trusted by facilities where proper air filtration is necessary to create a clean, sterile environment, from hospitals to nuclear facilities. It can give you peace of mind to know that the gold standard in air filtration protects the air in your home.

hepa filter illustration

How Do HEPA Filters Work?

HEPA filters are used in mechanical air purifiers. This air cleaning system is powered by a fan that pushes air through the filter. When you set the air purifier to a higher speed, more air is forced through the filter, causing harmful particles to be removed from the air at a faster rate.

When airborne particles make their way to the filter, they become trapped in a network of synthetic fibers that have an electrostatic charge. The charge helps attract the particles and trap them in the mesh of fibers.

How Do You Know It’s a HEPA Filter?

The Department of Energy (DOE) sets a standard for HEPA that contractors must follow to ensure that indoor air is filtered adequately for any government-funded projects. However, there’s no standard for certifying the HEPA filters you purchase to use in your home.

That doesn’t mean there’s no way for you to determine which HEPA filters are most effective. Filters that are called “True HEPA” should follow the DOE standard. That means it can remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size.

Some manufacturers use the European standard for evaluating the effectiveness of a HEPA filter. If a filter is labeled “True-HEPA (H13) Filter,” it follows the European standard. This classification means it removes at least 99.9% of airborne particles 0.1 microns in diameter. That matches the filtration used in healthcare settings.

Particles HEPA Filters Capture

Airborne particles circulate within your living space. You probably think of smog and other outdoor pollutants when you think of air pollution. However, it’s estimated that indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Air filters can capture the airborne particles in your home. HEPA filtration captures these particles:

  • Dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Pet Dander
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Mold
  • Microorganisms

If you wish to filter out gases and odors, look for a HEPA filter that has activated carbon filtration, too. HEPA filters with activated carbon remove all the particles that other HEPA filters do but remove chemicals and odors, too. They help with smells like cigarettes and litter boxes and chemicals such as volatile organic compounds emitted by many everyday household products. This powerful filtration is perfect for homes that need to eliminate particles and gaseous compounds.

How Long Do HEPA Filters Last?

It can vary based on how often you run your air purifier. For the best protection against indoor air pollution, it’s best to run your air cleaner continuously. Replacement schedules typically assume that you use your air purifier nonstop.

Many HEPA filters need to be replaced every year. Some manufacturers’ air filters may last even longer than this. You should follow the air filter product’s instructions for replacement frequency. It’s a good idea to inspect your air filter every six months to make sure it’s not overly dirty because a dirty filter will not provide adequate air filtration.

Replacing Your HEPA Filter

Replace your air filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some may offer an filter subscription option that will send you a replacement filter according to the recommended replacement schedule, making it easy to remember when you need a new one. Air purifiers cannot work effectively unless you follow this schedule.

Additionally, it’s essential to follow the instructions for removing the filter. The process of removing it can release particles back into the air and harm your indoor air quality. If you have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions, try to find someone else to replace the filter for you.

Be sure to factor in the cost of air filter replacement as you comparison shop for air purifiers. It’s not just the initial cost of the device that you need to account for in your budget. Consider how much air filter replacements are and how often you have to replace them to determine the total cost of ownership for running the device.

Benefits of HEPA Air Filters for Allergies

Many people use HEPA air filters for allergies because their allergist directed them to take advantage of this leading filtration technology, which is known for its effectiveness at removing allergens. This may reduce the number of allergy triggers in your indoor spaces.

Protecting yourself from indoor air pollution is crucial for allergy sufferers. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “For people with allergies, scientific studies have shown that air filtration reduces these airborne allergens and may provide some relief.”

Mechanical air purifiers with HEPA filters can be part of a larger plan to address this environmental health risk. When combined with other measures such as frequent vacuuming and washes of bedding, you can get some relief from your allergy symptoms.

If you don’t already have an air purifier, this guide issued by the Environmental Protection Agency can help you select the best device for your air filtration needs and the size of your space. It is a helpful resource as you take this important step to start harnessing the power of HEPA filtration in your home. It can be empowering to safeguard your health by taking advantage of this amazing technology that removes allergens and other indoor pollutants.

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