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The Origin of the HEPA Filter

During the 1940’s, the first HEPA filter (high efficiency particulate air) was developed as
part of a top-secret U.S. military program called the “Manhattan Project” by Arthur D. Little Co.,
a government contractor working to produce the first atomic weapon. To move forward with
the project, scientists needed a means of eliminating the minute but highly toxic radioactive
particles that were contaminating experiments and endangering personnel. The scientists
were mainly concerned with a specific particle size of 0.3 microns which was the most
penetrating and problematic. The revolutionary new HEPA filter they designed solved the problem,
and from that point on, the 0.3 micron particle size became the standard for HEPA
performance and became the basis for modern HEPA filter designs

After World War II, the technology was declassified and HEPA filters (originally called absolute
filters) quickly became an essential component in computer chip manufacturing, operating
rooms, pharmaceutical manufacturing and of course, the safety industry. Today, a certified HEPA
filter is defined by the Institute of Environmental Science as a filter that can capture 99.97%
(or more) of particles that are 0.3 microns in size.

Different countries refer to the technology by other names; in the United States we call it HEPA
filtration, in Europe, they are called S-Class filters, over in England it is referred to as the
British Standard 5415 and in Germany the filter performance standard is called DIN 2418B Ti-E EU 13,
however, all these designations refer to the same basic HEPA filtration standards.

 
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