The Truth Behind
When a Virginia or DC area homeowner is offered the option to buy an Ultra-Low Particulate Air (ULPA) filtration unit, it can sound like a good idea. After all, we’re talking about your family’s health, right?
Well, not really. The offer is less about health than it is about greed.
How can we say such a thing with confidence?
What you will be told is that a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration unit will only stop 99.99% of particulates at 0.3 microns, while the ULPA will stop 99.99% of particulates as small as 0.12 microns. This implies that HEPA filters don’t filter out particles smaller than 0.3 microns. These results, as presented, seem to make choosing the ULPA an obvious move, but they don’t tell the whole story.
The Birth Of HEPA
HEPA filters were first developed to deal with radioactive dust from nuclear bomb manufacturing in the 1940s and advanced into hospital systems in the 1960s to help prevent cross-contamination through the ventilation system.
The measurement of 0.3 microns became the pitch for these filters because achieving that level of filtration was a huge breakthrough that took years to achieve. So, 0.3 microns became the claim to fame and, over time, was conflated with the filter’s limitations – but nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is HEPA filters filter out really small particles just as well as large particles. Particle physics research found that 0.3 micron particles are the hardest to capture. So saying your filter can capture 99.97% of 0.3 micron particles is a badge of pride in the nerd world of filter manufacturers. That does not mean it can’t filter out particles smaller than 0.3 microns.
NASA’s Testing of HEPA Filters
Simply put, mold will grow all over space stations due to moisture. Both the MIR space station and International space station have had large problems with mold. NASA, an organization that is understandably concerned with filtering out mold before it shoots astronauts into space, decided to conduct a study to test the reliability of HEPA filters with some surprising results.
It found that “the key implication to emphasize is that HEPA filters are nearly 100% efficient at capturing the spectrum of particles down to the very smallest airborne particles.”1
Simply put, HEPA filters capture even the smallest particles with near-perfect results. Results, we might add, that is good enough for space flight.
So Why Do ULPA FIlters Exist?
We can’t say. All of our protective gear uses HEPA filters because that’s all we need – and we spend our days surrounded by billions of mold spores as we do our work. If ULPA filters made a difference, we’d be using them every day.
For all intents and purposes, ULPA filters are a redundant technology that serves no true purpose outside of making a lot of money off of a marketing error by the developers of the HEPA filter.
None of the ULPA claims are untrue; it’s just that they leave out truths that won’t help them sell their outrageously expensive units. Such as the fact that HEPA filters will also filter out particulates at 0.1 microns but at a success rate of roughly 99.91% instead of 99.99%.
The true performance differences between ULPA filters and HEPA filters can be measured in the hundredths of a percent. Knowing this, we can’t in good conscience recommend expensive ULPA units to our customers when a simple HEPA unit will give them all the filtration they’ll ever need.
And honestly, neither can anyone else, but they push them anyway.
If you are concerned about mold in your Virginia or DC area home and want a company that will offer the most comprehensive and cost-effective answer to your problem, contact us at Valor Mold Removal for a free estimate.