People often wonder, ‘what does a vacuum actually capture?’ We are asked all the time about bacteria, lead, pollen, and other contaminants. “Will a HEPA vacuum capture these?” So let’s put an answer to the questions.
“HEPA” is an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air. That alone sounds a bit vague, so let’s dive a bit deeper.
Small particles are measured in micrometers. You are probably familiar with a meter and centimeter from your measuring tape, so you know how small a centimeter is. There are 1000 micrometers in a centimeter, so they are tiny. Another name for micrometer is micron.
This kind of vacuum captures 99.97% of particles that have a diameter of 0.3 micrometers or larger. If you ever want to know if your vacuum will capture something, simply do a Google Search of “What is the diameter of (X)?”. If the diameter is larger than 0.3 micrometers (microns), then a HEPA vacuum will capture it.
Putting HEPA In Plain Terms
To give you an idea of how small this is, the average human hair is 100 micrometers wide – and your vacuum eats everything bigger than 0.3 micrometers. So a HEPA vacuum is going to suck up hair, pollen, lead, asbestos, silica, hexavalent chromium, ash, and most bacteria (there are some species of bacteria that are smaller than 0.3 micrometers). There is only one type of vacuum – ULPA – that filters smaller particles, and you probably don’t need one of those unless you are working in a laboratory.
When Do I Need A HEPA Vacuum?
So when do you need one of these types of vacuum, and when will the standard wet dry vacuum cut it? HEPA is recommended when you are working with a hazardous material, like lead, asbestos, silica, and hexavalent chromium – essentially if you are a contractor or renovator. This type of vacuum is compliant with EPA and OSHA Silica Rule when it is a certified HEPA filter.
Generally speaking, a non-HEPA vacuum will work for any dust anything that doesn’t include lead, asbestos, silica, or hexavalent chromium. In this case, you can use a standard wet dry vacuum for drywall, wood, general ‘house dust’, water in your basement, and general cleanup.
Wear A Mask When Working Around Allergens Or Hazardous Materials
You might choose to use a HEPA vacuum simply for cleanup around the house, or you may purchase one for lead renovation. You should always wear a mask or respirator when vacuuming up substances that may pose a threat to you. Even if you are using a vacuum to clean up allergens from pet hair, if you are allergic a vacuum can stir up the particles and make it more dangerous – so wear a mask if you think you are working around anything that can pose a threat to you.
Our Vacuum Solutions
We offer several HEPA vacuums for consumers to use. Each of these can capture small particles. Visit the links to the right to learn more about the options we offer!