Air quality has become a real buzzword of late, with the ‘toxin tax’, ‘diesel scrappage scheme’ and ‘clean air zones’ dominating headlines and becoming everyday phrases.
That new petrol and diesel engines in the UK are now to be banned from 2040 is the highest profile commitment yet to cleaning up this country’s outdoor air.
While all of this is to be applauded, there is a fundamental oversight, an elephant in the room if you like: the failure to tackle indoor air quality, which is a significant problem in itself.
In fact, indoor air pollution is often many times worse than outdoor pollution. In the USA, for example, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) studies have found that pollutant levels indoors are usually two to five times higher than outside.
The problem of poor indoor air is particularly acute in manufacturing environments. And this is a major problem, as it can lead to product contamination, customer complaints, regulatory failures and increased staff sickness levels.
In short, it has the potential to hit both a manufacturer’s brand and, through staff absence, contaminated products and even fines, its bottom line.
From blue chip to everyday brands
While ‘HEPA’ (high efficiency particulate air) clean air environments in the form of over- and under-pressure rooms have traditionally been associated with larger pharmaceutical companies and microchip manufacturers, who could cover the often significant cost, this thankfully is no longer the case.
New commercial air filtration technologies mean HEPA clean air environments are now much more widely available and are far less expensive than they used to be. Clean air indoors is increasingly becoming commoditised within everyday manufacturing environments.
Today even the smallest manufacturers in multiple sectors, from food to engineering, can benefit from so-called ‘clean air rooms’ and the use of an HEPA over-pressure environments.
Great versatility and ease of implementation mean there is currently a variety of affordable HEPA filtration solutions available to even the smallest of manufacturers. These solutions involve the creation of easy and quick-to-install ‘negative pressure’ and ‘positive pressure’ environments, using leakage-free HEPA and HyperHEPA filtration.
A positive pressure environment is such that the air pressure in the room is higher than outside, so that contaminants (particles, viruses, bacteria etc.) are kept out.
Conversely, air pressure in a room under negative pressure is lower than outside, so that contamination from the room does not flow out into surrounding areas.
Protect against contamination
Essentially, positive and negative pressure rooms mean air quality inside can be controlled and protected against contamination, resulting in a clean air environment and a healthier — and more productive — workforce.
And as mentioned above, it no longer requires a substantial investment to create clean air environments in an everyday manufacturing environment.
Leakage-free HEPA filtration units available today — such as the IQAir Cleanroom H13 in combination with an IQAir In-Flow or Out-Flow — are significantly less expensive than the old guard and enable every cubic metre of air in a room to be easily cleaned to the required number of air changes.
As well as being very easy to maintain and long-lasting, they’re also built with non-experts in mind: each unit, for example, features a traffic light system correlating to each filter to tell you when it needs to be changed, which prevents any loss of ‘clean room’ efficiency.
And for those concerned about the electricity bill, the lightbulb moment may come when I tell you you might be spending more money lighting the room than cleaning it.
That’s how low-cost the new breed of commercial air filtration machines are to run.