October, 08
by RT

PCO vs. HEPA Filtration in Grow Rooms

There are four major airborne threats affecting indoor grow facilities

PCO vs. HEPA Filtration in Grow Rooms

There are four major airborne threats affecting indoor grow facilities:

  • Molds
  • Pollen
  • Insects
  • Bacteria

A proper filtration system prevents powdery mildew and cross-pollination while stopping airborne dust and insects from settling on the canopy.

Choosing between HEPA and PCO technologies can be difficult due to the amount of conflicting information available.

The Truth About PCO

PCO has proven to be effective in fixed applications, however, there are serious concerns regarding the true efficiency, particulate removal, and harmful by-products produced from the incomplete breakdown of VOCs within airflow applications.

For VOCs to be completely broken down into non-toxic carbon dioxide and water, the UV light, catalyst, and speed of contaminated air have to be perfect to offer adequate efficiency.

During testing, the by-products from the unfinished breakdown of VOCs have proven to produce up to 4x the amount of Formaldehyde in the air, a known human carcinogen.

Concordia University conducted a study and summarized that: “Imagine if, in an effort to clean the air more efficiently, you were involuntarily introducing chemicals more dangerous than the ones you were trying to scrub. Researchers have found that this exact situation is happening with a type of air filter called photocatalytic oxidation, a product already on the market.

Restricting airborne dust and mold off of cannabis plants is critical and this is something PCO technology is not designed to do. Some pollen and mold we be killed in photocatalytic oxidation but the particulate remains in the air.

Why Choose HEPA?

HEPA filters are specifically designed to trap airborne particulate, providing a surgical level clean room environment.

According to the EPA summary of PCO air cleaners, “PCO cleaners use UV lamps along with a substance, called a catalyst, that reacts with light. These cleaners are designed to destroy gaseous pollutants by changing them into harmless products, but they are not designed to remove particulates. The usefulness of PCO cleaners in homes is limited because currently available catalysts are ineffective in destroying gaseous pollutants in indoor air.”

HEPA air filters were created in the 1940’s for the Manhattan project where the first atomic bomb was developed during World War II. High-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) were a huge advancement in air filtration technology. The filter solved a crucial need to control very small particles that were contaminated by nuclear radioactive sources.

HEPA filters were also known as absolute filters because they remove 99.97% of particulate down to .3 micron. The major threat to indoor grow rooms is particulate being 1 micron and larger. The human eye cannot see anything under 40 to 50 microns.

Because of its effectiveness and efficiency, HEPA filters have become the standard for any application that requires the ultimate in air filtration.

PCO technology has proven to be effective in preventing mold growth within an HVAC duct, however, the possibility of negative health effects and low efficiency make HEPA the most superior solution for indoor grow rooms. 

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