Whether you have allergies or other sensitivities or just want to breathe better and fresher air, air purifiers are a great way to reduce such pollutants. There are plenty of ways to clean the air in your home or working environment. The best air purifier should remove at least 99% of airborne contaminants and irritants, including gases, bacteria, viruses and odours.
In terms of air purifiers, HEPA is the gold standard for filtration technology. This kind of precision filter provides the best defence of all filter technologies against particles and allergens, capturing no less than 99.97% of dirt, dust, pollen, and other pollutants that might otherwise find their way into our homes and workplaces.
What is a HEPA filter and how does it work?
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. With a mesh web that’s thousands of times finer than human hair, the HEPA filter traps particles as small as 0.3 microns — that’s 99.97% of airborne contaminants! From pet dander to pollen, dust to mould and viruses, it captures all the nasty stuff you don’t want to be breathing in. As we know from Covid, respiratory diseases can be deadly, so let’s break that infection chain in the first place! What can we use?
By definition, a real HEPA filter is one that meets the standards set by the Government for filtration effectiveness. A HEPA filter must trap at least 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger. This means that these filters are capable of stopping even the smallest airborne allergens — including pet dander, dust mite waste and viruses.
Why were HEPA filters invented?
HEPA filters are not a new technology at all — in fact, they began to be used in air purification back in the early 1940s. The HEPA filter was created during World War II by the Manhattan Project, and has been credited with preventing death by asphyxiation and other injuries as a result of nuclear weapons testing, including the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
When scientists discovered the potential for radioactive contaminants in the air in the aftermath of the world’s first nuclear weapons tests, they needed a way to protect themselves and others. They invented a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to eliminate these contaminants from their immediate environment and later added a charcoal layer on top to absorb smells.
HEPA filters have been used in commercial settings since the 1950s. Back then, they were used in hospitals to eliminate viruses, bacteria, smoke — even pollen — from the air. Today, we know that these same pollutants can negatively impact our health and wellness. With the right filters in place, we can bring clean air into our homes and workplaces.
Can HEPA filters be used in conjunction with other filters in air purifiers?
For a healthy living space, it’s essential that the air is clean. An air purifier can significantly reduce the amount of dampness and dust in your home or office, bringing life back to your lungs and surroundings. The best way to ensure the quality of air being circulated through your environment is to choose an air purifier with a HEPA filter — these are designed to remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter or larger. Remember also, viruses are not naked, they are transmitted in droplets and are usually coated in salts and proteins so, for example, naked SARS-CoV-2 is 0.13 microns but in its natural state is typically over 0.5 microns. HEPA also trap particles by diffusion forces at this tiny size, not just by virtue of their tiny pore size alone.
Some purifiers use permanent HEPA filters, while others use washable ones. Permanent HEPA filters can be vacuumed to remove dust, dirt and any other particulate matter — while washable HEPA filters can be appropriately cleaned using cold water. 12 month life expectancy is normal.
Bear in mind that while HEPA filters are great at removing particulate matter and certain gases and particles, they won’t do much for odours or smoke.
With many air purifiers, a pre-filter is used to trap large particles like pet hair and dust. The pre-filter will then enable the main HEPA filter to catch dust mites, pollen, mould spores and other contaminants that are small enough to pass through. An air purifier typically has several filters. Particle filters will tackle large pieces of debris, carbon filters deal with odours, and ionizers deal with air impurities like viruses and bacteria.
Activated Carbon Filters
An activated carbon filter will trap and absorb the odours inside your home and leave it feeling fresh and clean. Although it won’t remove airborne particles, it’s effective in pulling odour out of small spaces, such as those in your home. While you can place an activated carbon filter in most air circulation systems, they’re specifically designed to work with a whole-home filtration system.
Germicidal Ultraviolet Light (UVC) – Endorsed against all pathogens
UVC has more uses than you might think — from the treatment of water to the sterilization of medical equipment, UVC is an everyday part of our lives. But could it be the key to clean living? Air purifiers with built-in UVC lamps can kill all airborne particles including bacteria, viruses, pollens and even pet dander. UVC is safer than UVA or UVB when specified correctly and this century-old, proven anti-pathogen tech is highly effective against airborne respiratory diseases such as Covid, Influenza, RSV, Fungal Spores, TB and various types of Pox. UVC is supported by Regulators and endorsed by many of the world’s leading scientists, medics and engineers as a perfect weapon to destroy these Coronavirus variants and other pathogens. It is even more effective than HEPA Filters alone.
UVC can also be designed into primary building HVAC systems to sterilise the air circulating in a whole building’s ventilation system to create “Immune Buildings”.
Ozone Generators (experts say – “No!”)
Air purifiers are a great investment for all businesses, but some models will do more harm than good. The problem lies in the form of the purifier — many models that generate ozone can actually do more damage than good. Ozone is a compound that is created when high levels of oxygen are exposed to ultraviolet radiation, and it’s a harmful pollutant that has been linked to asthma, lung inflammation, and respiratory distress. These devices release ozone into the air from where it can bond with small particles, like those found in smoke or smog, and create free radicals that break them down.
Ionizers (experts say – “No!”)
An ionizer — often found in air purifiers — creates a charge by ionizing the air. This charge will attract small particles in the environment, such as dust and pollen, that are suspended in the air. Once these particles attach themselves to an ion, they will fall onto the nearest surface below them (the floor or a tabletop) so that they can be cleaned up.
Unsure what HEPA or UVC solution would be best for your business environment? We invite you to schedule a free consultation with us to discuss your business’s air purification needs.