The skinny on HEPA filters
Everyone is talking about HEPA filters! So what the heck is a HEPA filter anyway? And do you need one?? First things first, HEPA is not a name brand, it’s an acronym (for High-Efficiency Particulate Air) and it’s a quality standard that can be applied to products when they can filter at least 99.97% of particles below a certain size (0.3 microns). The filters themselves are made of thin glass fibres, and don’t emit any byproducts. And do you need one? COVID has of course piqued everyone’s interest in this topic, especially in relation to indoor air quality in schools, offices, and other public settings. But indoor air quality is about so much more than just viruses!
A few quick, easy ways to promote fresh air in your home are opening windows (duh!), using your hood fan whenever you are cooking, using a vacuum with a certified HEPA filter (more on that later), and wet mopping your floors. Doing some or all of these things will help you breathe easier, but adding a HEPA air filter will take it to the next level.
One of the most important things HEPA filters do is reduce all the common airborne allergens, like pollens, pet dander, mold, dust and dust mites, on top of the bacteria and viruses everyone’s been thinking about lately. So they naturally reduce allergy symptoms, and they can reduce asthma symptoms, too, because these are often worsened by airborne allergens. Other benefits include improved sleep, reduced headaches, stuffy noses and sore throats. Air filters can also remove odours from your home, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) if they have a carbon filter as well. They can even be added to plumbing systems. And if there’s a smoker in the home, a HEPA filter is a real must.
I wish it weren’t so, but our homes can have contaminants in them, such as toxins like flame retardants used on electronics, furniture and even kids toys. These accumulate in household dust and dryer lint. The Environmental Working Group recommends using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to reduce these harmful chemicals in your home, and any HEPA use in your home probably helps, and certainly can’t hurt.
Some criteria to consider when choosing a HEPA filter include how big of a space you have, how often you will need to change the filter, and the CFM (cubic feet per minute), which will let you know how quickly it will clean the air. And of course, there’s your budget. HEPA filters vary greatly in cost, from about $300 up to $3,000. Remember that you will have to change the filter, so find out how often and how much this will cost, and make sure the product has been tested and certified!
Add a HEPA filter to your current HVAC system, and your whole home will have cleaner air, all year round. Make it easy and go with the Cadillac! Like an Abatement CAP1200 Whole Home HEPA Air Purifier.
Portable models are your best bet for smaller spaces, or if you need an entry level model so it’s easy on the budget. You might want to start with the room of your baby or child, especially if they have any respiratory difficulties. But with all the recent interest, cheap, inferior products abound, so buyer beware. One awesome portable model is the Winix PlasmaWave HR900 Portable HEPA Air Purifier. That’s what’s in the UPHouse office!
For tested and certified HEPA filters, and even an in-home consultation, check out Purahome on Secord Drive in St. Catharines, they will sort you out!