What Type of Particles Does a MERV 13 Filter Remove? A Comprehensive Guide

Learn about what type of particles does a MERV 13 filter remove and how it compares to HEPA filters for maximum protection against airborne contaminants.

What Type of Particles Does a MERV 13 Filter Remove? A Comprehensive Guide

MERV 13 filters are the most popular type of air filter and are designed to remove particles from the air larger than 0.30 microns. These include dust, pollen, and other large particles. MERV 13 filters are often used in commercial and industrial environments. HEPA filters have the highest MERV level and are the ones that best protect against air contaminants.

The next question we must ask ourselves is whether or not the MERV 13 offers adequate protection. A MERV 13 filter traps with its minimum efficiency: less than 75% of air particles with a size of 0.3 to 1.0 microns (reference chart below). By increasing the size of air particles to between 3 and 10 microns, the MERV 13 filter will capture 90% or more of them at the worst time. So, upgrading to a MERV 13 is a step in the right direction, but is it enough?At a minimum, a MERV 13 filter traps less than 75% of air particles ranging in size from 0.3 to 1.0 microns.

One of the main issues to be addressed is filtration and the difference between MERV 13 and HEPA filters. The SARS-CoV-2 particle is only 0.1 micrometers in size, but it clings to the larger particles (0.3 micrometers) captured by the MERV 13 filter. A MERV 13 will trap less than 75% of particles in the air that are 0.3 to 1.0 microns in size (the coronavirus measures 0.1 microns). For commercial buildings, the EPA recommends MERV 13 to ensure clean air and adequate filtration.

MERV stands for “minimum reported efficiency value” and an air filter receives a MERV rating as determined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). In addition, due to logistical problems and the high cost of installing a higher MERV filter (such as MERV 1) in the existing HVAC system, both the CDC and ASHRAE recommend adding commercial quality portable HEPA air purifiers with the ACH (hourly air change) appropriate for the space.

What Are The Advantages Of Using A MERV 13 Filter?

MERV 13 filters are excellent for removing large particles, while HEPA filters trap small particles more efficiently. A HEPA filter is essentially the ultimate solution in the world of air filters and far exceeds what a MERV 13 can do. Many of the existing air conditioning (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems also find it difficult to adopt a MERV 13 due to the increased load on the fan due to a finer filter medium, which, in fact, can cause more harm than good, in addition to reducing airflow if the system is not designed to withstand that type of filter.

Can I Use A MERV 13 Filter In Conjunction With A HEPA Filter?

MERV 13 filters can also be incorporated into portable filtration systems for an air conditioning system with HEPA filtration.

Considering the threat posed by the spread of COVID-19 and other germs, updating a building's air filter with a HEPA one is a much more effective measure than using a MERV 13, considering the small size of the virus (0.06 to 0.12 microns); the more efficient the filter, the better.


In conclusion, while MERV 13 filters are great for removing large particles from your home or office environment, they are not as effective as HEPA filters when it comes to trapping smaller particles such as those found in viruses like SARS-CoV-2.For this reason, it is recommended that you upgrade your existing HVAC system with a HEPA filter or incorporate portable filtration systems with both HEPA and MERV 13 filters for maximum protection.

Tammy Spangenberg
Tammy Spangenberg

Amateur coffeeaholic. Subtly charming internet guru. Devoted twitter junkie. Hardcore social media specialist. Award-winning writer. Wannabe twitter aficionado.

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