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HEPA filters: All you need to know

Here’s an explainer on the functioning and cleaning of HEPA filters to help you make an informed choice this much-dreaded pollution season

While air quality has improved owing to the lockdown, the festive season is expected to bring it down arrives. And, high-efficiency particle arrestors (HEPA) filters prove to be useful during such times.

HEPA technology filters 99.9% of airborne particles and traps particles as small as 0.3 micrometres in diameter and releases purified air.

How do HEPA filters work?

The filters contain a certain level of activated carbon-based material and are made of thin glass fibre. These fibres are compressed into paper-like sheets which are later pleated so that the air can pass through it. The folded layers of these fibres help stop the mold spores, viruses, bacteria and dust from getting stuck in its surface and eliminate toxic gasses and odours.

The HEPA filters consist high-energy UV light units with an anti-bacterial coating that helps in killing viruses and live bacteria. These filters are used in air purifiers, cars, vacuum cleaners, and HVAC systems.

How to clean HEPA filters?

HEPA filters’ longevity depends on several factors. Though the manufacturer’s guidelines say the filters need to be changed annually, there is no mention of a specific number of months it should be used for. The filters should be monitored for leaks every six months if the HEPA filter’s zone background is at high-risk operation.

There are chances of the filter getting clogged with harmful airborne particles. It is not advised to clean these HEPA filters since the leftover air pollutants get retained in fibres, there are chances that when you try to clean it you may inhale the harmful releases.

One can use a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner to do so, otherwise, it would be released in the air. Once cleaned, one must ensure the filter is completely dry before using as a wet filter can lead to mold formation on its surface.

It is advised to replace the HEPA filter instead of cleaning or washing it. Also, not all HEPA filters are washable.

If the non-washable filters are taken out and tapped on or rinsed in water to get the excess dust off, it might damage some of the fibres. But if the filter is labelled as washable then washing it under cold water is good. Do not touch the fibre and only allow water to contact it, otherwise, the fibres may get stretched and form a gap.

Sampurna Maity
| Writer | Dancer | Travel Enthusiast | Foodie |

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