San Diego homeowners concerned with indoor air quality may find the perfect solution in a HEPA air filter. Originally designed by the Department of Energy (DOE) in the 1940s, high efficiency particulate air filters, otherwise known as HEPA filtration, gained popularity as home and office solutions starting in the 1950s.
HEPA filters differ from standard air filters in the amount of space that exists between fibers. Standard filters have small spaces between fibers, so pollutant particles that are larger than the space get trapped while smaller particles still travel through the filter.
HEPA filters have a large amount of space between fibers but are actually able to trap much smaller particles. Rather than filter particles based on size, HEPA filters intercept particles as the airflow pushes them through the filter’s randomly placed fibers. As the particle moves through the filter the particle becomes lodged in the fiber and is unable to continue through the filter.
HEPA filtration systems are the most effective air filters found in today’s air cleaners. Filters are given a minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV rating, to reflect their effectiveness with particle removal based on size. On the MERV scale, HEPA filters fall between 17 and 20.
HEPA filters do have some limitations. While HEPA filters are effective at cleaning particle pollutants, they are not effective against gaseous pollutants. They also tend to be more expensive than standard filters, so consumers should weight their desire for particle pollutant-free air against their budget. And, if used in an HVAC system that’s not suited for the HEPA filter’s dense nature, airflow can be obstructed and can negatively impact home comfort.