How Long do HEPA Filters Last?
Class II, Type A2 Biological Safety Cabinet HEPA Filter Loading Capacity
William Peters, Vice President of Engineering
The life of a HEPA filter for a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) is an important subject when considering the life cycle cost of any BSC. HEPA filter loading capacity has always been a major concern for the design and performance of a BSC. Not only in terms of replacement cost, but also in terms of laboratory safety through the replacement process, down time, and associated costs.
With the use of new energy efficient motor technologies, expected HEPA filter loading capacity of BSC’s may be reduced but still meet the NSF/ANSI 49 requirements. The discussion below provides a short explanation as to the requirements, what has changed, why it changed and what information is required from manufacturers to assure at a minimum the same HEPA filter loading capability. The energy savings obtained by using some of the new energy efficient motor designs of today may be offset by replacing the HEPA filters more often.
The first major BSC specification developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dating back to August 1973 included a specification for filter loading capacity. The NIH-03-112 specification scope and objective was to provide procurement specification for a safety cabinet that included downflow (which was new back then) along with inflow to provide both product and personnel protection. The cabinets would be used in biological research or production as an aid to control airborne contaminants, which may represent a low to medium risk hazard to scientific personnel and/or be deleterious to the equipment.