HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters have long been regarded as the gold standard in air purification technology. Since their inception in 1942, they have been trusted to remove airborne particles and ensure cleaner indoor air. However, recent research suggests that the efficacy of HEPA filters may not be as impressive as once believed. In this blog post, we will examine some common myths surrounding HEPA technology and uncover the facts.
Myth 1: HEPA Filters Remove 99.97% of Airborne Particles
While it is true that HEPA filters can remove at least 99.97% of particles that reach the filter, this statistic can be misleading. It refers to the particles that actually make it to the filter, not the percentage of airborne particles present in a room or building. Unfortunately, HEPA filters are ineffective at capturing some of the most dangerous particles, including viruses like SARS-CoV-2.
Ultrafine particles between 0.03 microns and 1 micron in size, such as SARS-CoV-2, remain unaffected by airflow. As a result, these tiny viruses and particles remain suspended in the air, out of reach of HEPA filters, as noted by Dr. John O Warner OBE, an Emeritus Professor at the UK’s National Heart and Lung Institute.
Myth 2: HEPA Filters Are Effective at Capturing COVID-19
It’s a common misconception that HEPA filters are effective at capturing and neutralizing COVID-19. While HEPA filters may capture aerosolized respiratory droplets containing SARS-CoV-2, these droplets can quickly evaporate, leaving behind the virus itself. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is approximately 0.1 microns in size, too small to be manipulated by airflow, and it can remain suspended in the air for up to 30 days.
Furthermore, HEPA filters do not destroy or inactivate viruses or other particles that reach the filter, potentially becoming a breeding ground for airborne pathogens like mold.
Myth 3: Increased Ventilation Enhances HEPA Filter Performance Against COVID-19
While increased ventilation may aid in the movement of larger aerosolized respiratory droplets that can be manipulated by airflow, it does not address the problem of evaporated droplets, leaving behind the virus in the form of “droplet nuclei.” The SARS-CoV-2 virus, being approximately 0.1 microns in size, remains suspended in the air for extended periods and is unaffected by airflow.
Myth 4: HEPA Filters Can Capture Particles as Small as 0.01 Microns
While some studies suggest that HEPA filters can capture particles as small as 0.01 microns, it’s essential to note that the effectiveness of this capture relies on the physical transportation of particles to the filter media. Ultrafine particles between 0.03 microns and 1 micron in size are not affected by airflow and may never reach the filter.
Fact: ACTIVE Particle Control™ Technology Outperforms HEPA Filters
A comparative study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that an alternative technology called ACTIVE Particle Control™ Technology is 95% more effective at removing fine and ultrafine particles from the air than a standard HEPA filtration system. This study, conducted in 2020 in real-world operating room settings, demonstrated a 94% and 95% reduction in fine and ultrafine particles.
Fact: HEPA Filtration Is Not the Newest and Most Innovative Technology
Contrary to the belief that HEPA filtration is the latest innovation in air purification, this technology has remained largely unchanged since its invention in the early 1940s. In the past eight decades, promising advancements in air purification, such as ACTIVE Particle Control™ Technology, have emerged. These modern technologies focus on both the filter and the movement of particles, conditioning particles in the air to clump together, increasing their size, and making them susceptible to filtration.
In conclusion, while HEPA filters have been a trusted solution for air purification for many years, it’s essential to recognize their limitations and consider more advanced technologies like Active Particle Control to address the evolving challenges of indoor air quality. As our understanding of airborne contaminants grows, so too should our approach to purifying the air we breathe.
Indoor Air Solutions provides advanced filtration and purification solutions to suit all needs. Contact us below for your filtration needs.