High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters trap and remove virtually all particle contaminants from air (99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter). These filters are at the heart of range air filtration as they remove dangerous lead contaminants. This protects your customers and employees, and avoids costly fines and regulatory actions by state and federal agencies. Read on to learn more…
Q. Are HEPA filters necessary?
A. The answer is a resounding YES! If your range ventilation system is the type that recirculates air, the HEPA filters are an essential step to remove lead from air that your shooters and employees will breathe. Even if yours is a single-purge system that does not recirculate air, HEPA filters are necessary to assure that exhaust air does not contaminate your building’s immediate surroundings.
Q. How do HEPA filters protect shooters and staff?
A. HEPA filters work continuously whenever the range is in operation to remove essentially all contaminants so that Returned Air that shooters breathe is as clean and fresh as Outside Air. This filtration step is also essential to protect your staff who work around the range and to comply with OSHA regulations that limit lead exposures to less than 30 μg/mg3. In practice, the lead concentration post-HEPA filters is zero (below the measurable threshold) in a properly designed and balanced range ventilation system.
Q. I’ve heard people claim that other types of filters such as pre-filters, or so-called “high-efficiency filters” can be used instead of HEPA’s. What do the experts say?
A. There’s no such thing as a cheap substitute for a HEPA filter. Pre-filters alone won’t do the job. And “99% HEPA High Efficiency Filter” is a meaningless term invented by marketers to sell cheap filtration systems. These filters do not achieve the zero lead concentration that is essential for safety.
Q. Why is it essential to use HEPA filters even on air being discharged from the building?
A. If your range system discharges lead out to the atmosphere, you can be liable for all of the abatement that could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is an extreme hazard involved when unfiltered or incompletely filtered air is exhausted into the atmosphere surrounding the range. Lead will precipitate out from the exhaust and will condense into a mass on the surrounding ground. Under some circumstances, lead may also leach into the water supply. Contamination cases are classified as a “release” by the EPA if the amount of lead exceeds five gallons.
Q. What EPA penalties are involved in cases of lead contamination?
A. For information, we talked to MT2, an environmental remediation service. Recent firing range environmental cases and projects show that a typical EPA regulatory fine is in the range of $250,000-$500,000. Additionally, when the EPA has to step in, range cleanups with EPA oversight can cost in the $5 million-$8 million range.
For more information on MT2, visit here.
Q. How can I minimize operating costs due to HEPA filter replacement?
A. The use of high quality Pre-Filters (and mid-filters in recirculation systems) before the HEPA filter can increase the time between HEPA filter replacements. Pre-Filters need replacing, too, but they are significantly less expensive. When it comes time to replace the HEPA filters, know that they are being replaced because they are doing their job – removing lead that would otherwise pose a contamination problem. We recommend that you keep replacement HEPA filters handy at your location in order to avoid range downtime for filter replacement.
Q. Any more questions?
A. Call Carey’s today at (708) 532-2449 for a free consultation.
Carey's Answers: Book #1
THE HEPA FILTER BOOK
How to Protect Your Customers and Employees … and Avoid Huge Fines
The experts are unequivocal
on the subject!
National Shooting Sports Foundation:
“All air being exhausted from the range should be passed through a High Efficiency Particulate Filter (HEPA) or equivalent to insure that state or federal regulations for airborne lead are not violated.”
National Air Filtration Association: “Exhaust or re-circulated air must be filtered at the point of removal with a minimum of 99.97% High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, per the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST) recommended practice. All HEPA filters should be accompanied by a letter of certification or a label documenting that each filter has met the test requirements.”