HEPA (High‐Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuums differ from conventional vacuums in that they contain filters that are capable of trapping extremely small, micron‐sized particles. A true HEPA filter can trap 99.97 percent of all airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns. To illustrate how small this is, a human red blood cell is usually between 6 and 8 microns wide.
For Mold Remediation, these vacuums are a vital tool in removing loose particulate prior to any application of chemicals or demolition, as to minimize spread contamination. HEPA vacuums are also recommended for cleanup of dust that may have settled on surfaces outside the remediation area. Care must be taken to assure that the filter is properly seated in the vacuum so that all the air must pass through the filter. When changing the vacuum filter, remediators should wear PPE to prevent exposure to the mold that has been captured. The filter and contents of the HEPA vacuum must be disposed of in well-sealed plastic bags.
Part 1: HEPA Vacuums
Through years of being in the restoration business I’ve started to notice a recurring theme seen mostly in mold remediation companies: Lack of Required Equipment. One of those required and industry standard pieces of equipment when doing any restoration project that should be used, is a HEPA vacuum. HEPA, which stands for HIgh Efficiency Particulate Air, is a type of air filter that the EPA and the United States Department of Energy require as a standard for Lead and Mold Remediation projects. A HEPA air filter must remove 99.97% of all particles greater than 0.3 microns from the air that passes through the canister or system itself. The use of HEPA filters is beneficial for asthma and allergy sufferers, because the filter traps fine particles such as pollen, spores and dust mite feces, which trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. But for a vacuum cleaner to be effective, that cleaner must be a True HEPA system. The main difference between a vacuum cleaner with just a HEPA filter and a True HEPA system, is that all of the air passing through the cabin of the system itself will pass through the HEPA filter, and the unit will not have cabin leaks. Vacuums that simply have just HEPA filters on them but are not True HEPA units allow air into the system that passes through the filter, but also through the cabin which then will allow spores and pollen back into the air through the exhaust causing re-contamination. But True HEPA vacuums will only allow all air to pass through the filter and the air in the cabin that will soon pass through the exhaust will be cleaned. So why doesn’t every contractor in remediation have True HEPA vacuums? One reason may be knowledge of proper products and cleaning methods, and the other may be the cost. True HEPA systems cost 5 to 7 times more than traditional wet/dry vacuums with HEPA filters. True HEPA vacuums also have specifically designed filters that are up to 10 tens more of a cost than regular HEPA filters found in large department stores. When hiring a remediation contractor for such projects as mold, lead based material removal, water damage restoration, trauma scene clean up, and other such types of projects, be sure to check the equipment being used. True HEPA vacuums have HEPA stamped on the unit. A further check into the equipment would be to look at the manufacturing labels and check with the manufacturer themselves to insure that the unit itself is deemed for the type of work being completed. For further information, please visit our website biowashing.com.