The critical role of clean air in reducing the transmission of viruses, such as Covid-19, has become increasingly apparent as scientists have learnt more about airborne transmission. In healthcare settings, exceptional air hygiene is even more vital, and air filtration needs to be closely monitored to protect the health of patients and staff. Air filtration systems that deliver safe, high-quality air efficiently offer a range of benefits, this article reviews what these are and how they can be achieved.
Using HEPA filters to achieve safe air quality
Air filtration systems provide an essential role in healthcare settings in reducing the risk of infection from airborne particles. By using a HEPA filter, airborne contaminants in a room can be diluted to a level deemed safe by international guidelines.
It takes several air changes for an air filtration system to achieve this compliance, and the calculation to determine this level is known as ‘aerosol clearance time’ or ACT. Most operating theatres require 20 air changes per hour, with more than 99% of airborne contaminants being removed after five changes.
By using an effective air filtration system, patients’ waiting time for appointments, operations, or procedures can be reduced.
What affects the time needed for air quality to reach safe levels?
There are a number of factors that can either contaminate or improve air hygiene. In a healthcare setting, these include:
- The patients and staff adherence to infection control precautions, e.g., testing for symptoms, hand washing and the use of appropriate PPE
- If the procedure carried out is deemed to be of a high transmission risk, for example, intubation, extubating, tracheostomy-related procedures and some dental procedures
- If the room is defined as a ‘hotspot’ location, i.e., when Public Health England identify a theatre as high risk due to the number of aerosol-generating procedures being performed
- The type of air filtration system being used in the room
- The attributes of the room, its contents and its use
With several different factors affecting air quality and the time required to achieve safe levels, The Department of Health stipulates that air ventilation must be inspected and tested every 14 months. Comprehensive records of its performance, repair and maintenance must also be kept updated.
The benefits provided from efficient air filtration
Achieving safe levels of air hygiene more quickly results in a number of benefits for healthcare settings, including:
- Protecting the health and recovery of vulnerable patients and minimising the risk of contracting viruses that could be life-threatening to this high-risk category.
- Reducing waiting time for appointments, procedures and operations, enabling patients to be treated more promptly
- Protecting the health of staff, working in these environments for extended periods
- Improved efficiency in processes, supporting adherence to healthcare budgets
At Filtrex, we appreciate the vital role of air hygiene in healthcare settings and have extensive knowledge in delivering filtration solutions in this sector. Our service includes the manufacture, supply and installation of HTM-03 standard, certified filters, as well as a structured filter monitoring and change regime to ensure consistently high-quality air for all your patients and staff.
Please contact our experienced engineers to find out more.