A lot of people wonder whether air purifiers with HEPA filters are really any better than electrostatic type air cleaners such as Oreck and others that use electrically charged plates to trap dust and other pollutants. There are several reasons why HEPA filters are better for your health, and do a much better and safer job of cleaning the air in your home or room.
First, there’s a big difference in overall efficiency or what percentage of particles are being removed. HEPA air purifiers must, to be called ‘HEPA’ (High Efficiency Particle Arresting), remove at least 99.97% of dust and other particles 0.3 microns and larger. Many of the best electrostatic air cleaners do trap over 90% of particles, but as the plates become coated with dust, they don’t trap the next round of particles as well and efficiency can quickly drop to 75%, 60% or lower, unless you’re cleaning the plates a couple of times a day, which is a hassle. HEPA air cleaners maintain that full 99.97% removal rate for the life of the filter with basically no maintenance in between. Big difference.
Second, with regard to cleaning electrostatic air cleaners, being exposed to the dust, dust mites, and other particles every time you clean it can kick off allergy or asthma symptoms if you accidentally bump the plates as you’re removing them. With HEPA air cleaners, the dirt, dust and other pollutants are trapped in the filter and generally aren’t released into the air when changing the filter.
Third, electrostatic air purifiers tend to make popping noises as many have reported while using Oreck air scrubbers-air cleaners with HEPA filters don’t do that. And yes, there are biodegradable HEPA filters and recycling for those filters, so even though an electrostatic air purifier might be better for the environment (with no filters), it isn’t protecting your health as well as a HEPA filter will. And if you have a choice between living longer or making the environment better, most people would choose to live longer.
So, yes, HEPA air cleaners do have the added expense of changing filters every year or two, but they protect your health and reduce allergies & asthma better by doing a better filtration job-but isn’t your health and wellness worth it? If you’re into protecting the environment and don’t mind cleaning the plates in an electrostatic air cleaner once a day or more to keep at least about a 90% dust removal rate, then that type of air scrubber may be better for you. But for most, a consistent, no maintenance removal rate of 99.97% is worth a little extra for filters, especially those with allergies, asthma or respiratory problems such as COPD, emphysema, etc.