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Why HEPA Can’t Protect the Air in Your Military-Grade Shelter

By Sean Dwyer, You First Services, Inc.

Why HEPA Can’t Protect the Air in Your Military-Grade Shelter

We trust military shelters to stand up to a myriad of conditions, in the harshest environments imaginable. For this reason, we design shelters with the goal of being dynamic, easily deployable, and constructed to provide their inhabitants with maximum protection against any outside threat. 

However, while the significant focus is placed on a shelter’s overall design and material, there exists a staggering lack of oversight when it pertains to proper air handling methods. 

To date, many shelters lack any customer requirements for how they should treat air against potential airborne hazards. With the absence of appropriate requirements, shelter users often turn to inadequate air treatment methods that include HEPA filtration. 

Sure, HEPA protects against 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, airborne particles, but as an air-handling method, HEPA was never intended to provide military-grade protection in the field. Beyond this, there are several inherent challenges with antiquated filtration systems from both an upstream and downstream perspective. 


In certain hostile environments, replacement filters are difficult to actively obtain. Having an onboard filtration system is useless if the field patrol cannot replace the filters regularly.


Properly disposing of the used filters is a major challenge in certain environments because there’s probably not a hazardous waste garbage dump conveniently near the shelter, which means the contaminated filter must likely be transported, which causes concerns. Plus, occasionally, the patrol may decide to burn the filters, which of course poses ecological and inhalation concerns.    

Besides these challenges with HEPA filtration, biological pathogens can easily escape HEPA filters, and it’s not necessarily the smaller pathogens that get through. 

Therefore, without insufficient direction, this places military personnel in a state of jeopardy; unprepared and dangerously ill-equipped in the event of a bioterrorism attack. 

There is a new air sterilization technology available, known as SteriSpace®, developed specifically for military shelters to protect personnel against bioterrorism. 

SteriSpace doesn’t trap the pathogens, but actually kills them using patented compressive heating technology. This technology has been tested and validated extensively through funding by the U.S. Dept of Defense and has repeatedly demonstrated an effective kill rate of 99.9999%, achieving a sterility assurance level of 6-log reduction. This is notable, as anything less than 6-log kill is not sterilization. 

SteriSpace is the only technology available on the market today that actually sterilizes the air… There is no other technology that can make this claim. 

Every system has pros and cons, including SteriSpace. The system draws 4kW of electricity, so the power requirement is relatively low but it requires electrical power, either generator or shore power.   

Now that SteriSpace is readily available, manufacturers should prepare for air sterilization technology to be included in future customer requirements. This makes now the perfect time to conceptualize the integration of this technology into your shelters. 

If you’d like to enhance your shelters with a SteriSpace Air Sterilization System, reach out and we’ll be happy to set up a meeting with one of our Air Sterilization Specialists. 

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