In the cleaning industry, it’s widely reported that indoor air is two-to-five times more polluted with chemical fumes, odours and dust than outdoor air. This is a contributing factor to the millions of lost workdays for adults each year from asthma complications. Until now we thought that vacuuming could only make the situation worse…
There are many contributing factors to indoor air contaminants and vacuum exhaust is one of them. To minimize the impact that vacuums have on indoor air, manufacturers have introduced high-level filtration systems. These can capture debris and prevent it from exhausting back out into the indoor environment. Cleanlink collected the key points to know about vacuum filtration.
High efficiency of HEPA
HEPA is defined by the U.S. Department of Energy as a high-efficiency particulate air filter and is the most common filter used in commercial cleaning equipment. This type of filter can capture 99.97 per cent of dust, pollen, mould, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns or larger (roughly 240 times smaller than a human hair). Equipment accessories with HEPA classification range from vacuum filters and disposable dust bags to completely sealed systems that force all the air leaving the vacuum through a HEPA exhaust filter.
Most vacuum manufacturers offer multistage HEPA filtration systems. These systems have multiple filters, each at various stages of the exhaust process, further capturing and therefore minimizing the emittance of dust and debris.
MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting values and indicates how well the filter can capture particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. The higher the MERV number, the better the filter is at trapping these particles. HEPA filters traditionally score very high in their MERV rating.
Filters for medical laboratories or cleanrooms
ULPA (Ultra-Low Particulate Air) filters remove 99.999 per cent of particles, down to 0.12 microns. These are available in commercial vacuums but are still less commonly used. Although ULPA filters collect more hard-to-trap particles, they are only necessary for specialized spaces such as medical laboratories or removing particulates from cleanrooms.
The minimal maintenance needs
To make sure vacuum equipment is performing properly, users should regularly inspect all the filters for blockages — manufacturers recommend examining filters every time the vacuum is emptied and cleaning washable filters no less than monthly.