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The Air Quality Blog by Rabbit Air
What Is a HEPA Air Purifier?

Most everyone knows and understands that the air outside is full of pollutants that can irritate the respiratory system and make allergies and asthma worse. What many people do not realize is that the air inside their homes can be just as polluted, and cause just as many health issues, as the air in a big city. Those who suffer daily with allergies, sneezing, itchy eyes, or chronic coughing know just how frustrating it can be to live in an environment that keeps them from feeling 100 percent. As a result, many are on the lookout for a way to improve the air quality inside their homes in order to find a little relief. A HEPA air purifier can be that relief if used properly and if the right one is chosen.

What Is HEPA?
A HEPA filter is also called a high-efficiency particulate air filter. The United States Department of Energy has certain standards in place that an air filter has to meet in order to be qualified as a true HEPA filter. According to those government standards, an air purifier must remove 99.97 percent of particulates at an incredibly small size (0.3 microns) from the air that passes through it to earn a true HEPA standing. These small particles include pet dander, mold, dust mites, and pollen. Larger particulates are usually filtered even more efficiently, being almost completely removed from the air.

Who Uses HEPA Filters?
While many people like to have a HEPA air purifier in their homes to ensure that their air quality is at the best level possible, there are many other uses for these filters in different industries. Some of the other applications include:

  • Hospitals
  • Laboratories
  • Aircraft
  • Cars

When HEPA filters are used in places such as medical facilities, many incorporate UV light to help kill off any live bacteria that could be a threat to the health of patients.

How do HEPA Filters Work?
Removing particles from the air inside your home is the main job of a HEPA air purifier. These machines do so with the help of filter mats that are inside the purifier. The mats are composed of fibers arranged in a random pattern that trap the particulates, keeping them from getting back out into the air. In order to function properly, a HEPA filter uses three mechanisms to ensure that particles are caught when travelling through the mats:

  • Impaction: Where particles stick to any fibers that close to
  • Interception: Where large particles run into the fibers directly
  • Diffusion: Where the smallest particles collide with gas molecules, impeding their way through the filter.

By forcing the air in your home through these fine mesh traps, you are able to get rid of the majority of the pollutants that are causing you problems.

Choosing a HEPA Filter
These days, there are many knock-off air purifiers that do not meet HEPA standards. Some products claim to be “HEPA-like” or even “99 Percent HEPA.” Unfortunately, if a filter does not meet the Department of Energy’s standards, it will not provide the air-cleaning power that a true HEPA filter will. When choosing a HEPA filter, watch out for phrases that suggest that the purifier does not actually meet HEPA requirements. Make sure that whatever product you choose to buy is up to par and will do the job that you need it to do. Some of the other factors you should consider before you make a purchase include the following:

  • Is the purifier large enough for the room where you intend to use it?
  • Does the purifier emit any unhealthy byproducts, such as ozone?
  • Do you need professional installation?

Doing a little research beforehand can leave you with a purchase that you feel comfortable with and that you will be happier about in the long run.

Whole Home Versus Single Room Filters
There are a few ways that you can use a HEPA air purifier in your home, but two of the most common include filtering the air in a single room with a small machine or filtering all of the air in your home with a whole-house filter. Deciding which option is right for you depends on your budget and your specific needs.

A single room filter is best used in the room or rooms where you spend most of your time. Many people prefer to install purifiers in their bedrooms, since a huge portion of their time is spent sleeping. Others would rather use the purifier in their home’s living spaces so that all residents can enjoy the benefits of cleaner air.

A whole-home system can be used in conjunction with an HVAC system, but requires installation by a professional. However, having all of the air in your entire home purified from the particles that negatively affect your health can be a huge benefit that many homeowners enjoy.

No matter which HEPA air purifier you choose to have in your home, you can reap the benefits of cleaner air and reduced respiratory irritation caused by common household pollutants.

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