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Even when the air we breathe is seemingly clean, it can still have detrimental effects. When it comes to viruses like Covid-19, ineffective filtering can spread the pathogen across the environment, rendering other safety measures obsolete. HEPA Filtration has been identified as a key measure to combat these issues. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air and HEPA Filters are able to trap 99.5% of particles down to 1 micron – great for ensuring clean, pollutant free air.
The role that air ventilation & purification plays in limiting the spread of COVID-19 is complex. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve earned more about the ways in which the virus can be transmitted. The CSIRO estimated the costs of poor indoor air quality to reach as much as $12 billion in Australia alone.
COVID-19 particles can live in the air for up to three hours. More ventilation (air movement) and better filtration (air cleaning) helps to cut down on the number of airborne particles that linger when an infected person coughs or exhales indoors. Particularly within either school or workplace environments this is important, as airborne infection is 15 to 20 times more likely to occur indoors than outdoors.
The HVAC systems of large buildings typically filter air before it is distributed throughout a building, so considering upgrading HVAC filters as appropriate for specific buildings & HVAC systems is a good idea. The variety and complexity of HVAC systems in larger buildings requires professional interpretation of technical guidelines, and it is recommended that air filters are upgraded to the highest efficiency possible and compatible with the system.
HVAC generally has low ventilation rates and has low grade filtration. It is designed to efficiently mix air in a room which could ultimately contribute to the distribution of viruses and/or bacteria. With HVAC systems, it is easy to move contaminated air from one room to another and can be expensive to change or improve. Changes that may seem beneficial don’t necessarily change or resolve infection control, especially without extensive engineering.
|Building Ventilation||In-Room Air Cleaning|
|Moving air through a space||Moving air within a space|
|Increased air flow dilutes||Increased air flow removes|
|Aerosol borne virus in a building||Aerosol borne virus from a room|
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) instead uses extremely fine fibres, which are spun into a dense filter medium, which is then folded into a tight concertina, through which the air passes. The extremely fine fibres trap particles of down to 0.1µm (microns) and inactivate them through the anti-microbial elements which are intertwined with the filter media. For perspective, 1µm is 1/1000th of 1mm (millimetre). Particles smaller than this will still also be captured. The importance of ‘True HEPA’ also can’t be underestimated. Some units are sold as HEPA units however they are only built to the style of HEPA and not certified as a true H13 or H14 HEPA. Non-true HEPA units can be inefficient and not remove the particles that need to be eliminated.
The discussion concerns the power of HEPA filtration and other devices used in healthcare, corporate, education and residential sectors when managing clean air quality. The history and background of indoor air quality and strategies used to improve indoor air will also be on topic.
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As part of a series of Global air quality & purification Webinars, Santé Group EMEA hosted a Global Insights into HEPA Filtration event, covering knowledge, best practices & insights from key specialists in facilities management & consultancy for healthcare and workplace hygiene.
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