Did you know that some pollutants in indoor air exceed the levels of those in outdoor air by two to five times? That makes indoor air pollution a threat, as the average American spends 90% of the time indoors.
So, no wonder polluted indoor air can have a more significant health impact. After all, it can stay inside for long periods, as buildings are now more airtight. By contrast, outdoor air gets filtered through trees, which help remove pollutants.
Fortunately, mitigating indoor air pollution is still possible with industrial air filters. These are devices designed to capture and trap pollutants.
However, the specific type of air filter determines which contaminants it can remove. Moreover, some are reusable, while others are disposable.
To that end, we came up with this guide discussing common types of industrial filters. Read on to discover what they are and which ones may be best for your business or workplace.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters
HEPA filters are mechanical filtration devices made of interwoven fiberglass fibers. Theoretically, they can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. For the same reason, they can help clean the air of dust, mold, pollen, and certain bacteria and viruses.
Because of their efficiency, HEPA filters are the top choice for healthcare facilities. However, they’re also suitable for the food & beverage sector. Some manufacturers now even market them as business air filters for typical workplaces.
HEPA filters are reusable multiple times, provided you clean them properly. However, if they get damaged (i.e., holes, leaks, or dents), expect a significant drop in their efficiency. A better option is to have them undergo professional industrial air filter cleaning.
Activated Carbon or Charcoal Air Filters
HEPA filters do a fantastic job removing PM, but it’s not the only indoor air pollutant. For starters, there are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Unfortunately, VOCs often take the form of gas; thus, HEPA filters can’t catch them.
The problem is that, like PM, VOCs can also cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. In addition, exposure to them can lead to breathing difficulty and nausea. Experts even link them to cancer and damage to the nervous system and organs.
Many products emit VOCs, including gas, fuels, solvents, paints, pesticides, and aerosol sprays. They can also come from personal care products, new furniture, and new carpets or rugs.
Fortunately, activated carbon or charcoal air filters can help capture VOCs. They can do that by filtering the air through a bed of activated carbon with numerous tiny pores. Gas molecules present in the air then get lodged in those holes.
As a result, the air that leaves activated carbon or charcoal air filters has fewer VOCs. Moreover, these devices can trap odor molecules. So, they can also help deodorize the air of funky, unpleasant smells.
Because of those functions, activated carbon or charcoal air filters may be ideal for:
- Petrochemical plants
- Manufacturing facilities
- Landfill sites
- Chemical processing facilities
- Businesses that use heavy equipment
However, carbon or charcoal filters only work primarily against VOCs and odors. So, using them with industrial filter options, such as HEPA, is imperative.
Do note that carbon or charcoal filters aren’t washable, though. Instead, they require replacement, usually after 3 to 6 months.
Filtration Systems With Ultraviolet (UV) Lights
UV lights are devices that produce UVC, the type of UV with disinfecting effects. According to experts, UVC can help kill microorganisms that cause infectious diseases.
So, it’s no wonder many healthcare facilities use them for disinfection. In addition, UV filtration is one of the most common ways to treat and disinfect water.
For the same reason, manufacturers have designed filtration systems with UVC lights. These devices suck in air, which they force through air filters, such as HEPA. After that, the filtered air passes the UVC lights, killing the pathogens it may contain.
Some HVAC manufacturers also offer UVC lights as an add-on or accessory to filters. They are usually available as coil sanitizing and air sanitizing lights.
Technicians install coil sanitizing lights near an air conditioner’s evaporator coils. These metal loops tend to be moist, promoting bacterial and fungal growth. The lights help disinfect them, reducing the odds of germs and molds growing on them.
On the other hand, air sanitizing lights usually go inside air supply vents. So, they’re like the final filter for the air before it circulates all over the building.
UVC lights, like typical light bulbs, also have a finite life span, ranging from a few thousand hours. After that, some burn out, while others, like LED UV lights, become dimmer. To determine if you need a replacement, have an HVAC technician inspect them with your system.
Cartridge Air Filters
Cartridge air filters are tube-like devices often used in sandblasting dust collection systems. Their goal is to capture smoke and fine dust. Once filtered, the dust collector releases cleaner air back into the room.
Some washable cartridge filters feature a nanofiber layer. It’s a material made of super-fine synthetic polymer fibers. That structure and design allow it to be effective in trapping uber-fine particles.
Other cartridge filters use washable spun-bond polyester filters. They’re heavier, thicker, and more durable than nanofiber. However, they’re better at catching larger particles.
Either way, the efficiency of cartridge air filters depends on their MERV rating. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). It ranges from 1 to 20; the higher it is, the more efficiently the filter can capture particles 0.3 to 10 microns in size.
For example, standard home HVAC systems have air filters with MERV ratings of 7 to 12. However, higher ratings between 12 and 16 are necessary for industrial applications. After all, these settings expose workers to particles that a typical air filter can’t trap.
Fight Polluted Indoor Air With Industrial Air Filters
And there you have it, your ultimate guide on the most common types of industrial air filters. Now you know that HEPA filters are best for PM pollution, while carbon filters may be better for VOCs. You’ve also learned that UV lights can also help improve filtration practices.
So, why not use your newly-gained knowledge to invest in the best industrial air filters? The sooner you do, the sooner you can boost your building’s indoor air quality.
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