All this talk of HEPA filters is making me dizzy. I just do not understand what the fuss is all about considering it is just a simple vacuum cleaner. The sole purpose of one is to clean your floors and suck every single particle off the ground. So why bother with a filter then? Why not stick to what you already have? Well, while I am not one to go screaming foul if I found my vacuum cleaner filter was below par, I understand that many are very careful of the filters used in any device. So, here’s a myth buster for you all sensitive nosed folks – HEPA filters are a scam! There I said it….
Why HEPA Came Out?
Developed way back in the 40s, it was actually designed for nuclear weapons research during the Manhattan Project. These filters were supposed to prevent the spread of radioactive particles and thus reduce risks of contamination of the laboratory. Over time, due to the high filtration rate, these filters became popular in the airline, biomedical and even pharmaceutical industries. Gradually, they made their way into vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, cooling and heating systems too.
Before we begin to throw accusations, let’s first find out how a HEPA filter works.
Basically, any HEPA filter relies on three methods. They are interception, diffusion and impaction. First when a particle hits the filter, the reduced airflow in the filter brings the particles close to fibers nearby. Naturally, it sticks to the fibers. This is called impaction and works with large particles. Diffusion works on tiny particles by limiting what kind of particles can pass through based on their size. And finally interception is for the smallest of particles and it simply is the process of capturing any remaining particles using active components.
Where is the Scam?
HEPA filters are supposed to capture 99.7% of all particulates in air above 0.3micron. This is the distinguishing feature of any HEPA filter. The scam is actually two folds. First, true HEPA filters have a serial number printed on them that signifies their accuracy at 0.3 microns. This is the distinction between actual HEPA filters and those that are said to be HEPA quality. Not the same thing folks but your manufacturers do not bother. They sell 99% of products under the name of HEPA filters but use near HEPA quality products in them. In other words, you end up paying lot more for something that isn’t even HEPA standard!
The second point of the scam is that even if some product used a true HEPA filter, its efficiency would be much lower. Take vacuum cleaners for instance. The ability to suck up anything is what makes a vacuum cleaner great. Problem is that the closer a filter comes to HEPA standards, the lower airflow it can maintain. This naturally translates to less suction power! Yup, HEPA vacuum cleaners tend to have either larger more noisy motors to overcome this problem or they simply ignore it leaving you with a low suction cleaner.
The Lesson Here
Forget about the kind of filter in your vacuum cleaner. It makes sense to have HEPA filters in your air conditioner or even air purifiers but on your vacuum cleaner, you want the most suction power with the best possible filtration. Majority of vacuum cleaners already provide you this so next time you think of replacing the filter, get the one recommended by the manufacturer.