contamination

For Healthy Indoor Air Quality, Food Manufacturers Need Clean Air

For Healthy Indoor Air Quality , Food Manufacturers Need Clean Air 1

Facing the constant risk of bacteria and regulatory pressures from federal agencies, food manufacturers must ensure their products are free from all sources of contamination, including the air. Maintaining safe and hygienic air quality levels not only provides employees with a comfortable work environment but also reduces the possibility of contaminants that are commonly found during food manufacturing.

Air should especially be controlled if it comes into direct contact with food. For example, common foods that are processed using air filtration systems include eggs. To prevent contamination of eggs by micro-organisms such as salmonella, eggs are sent through in-line conveyor belts, scrubbed with automated machinery, dried with filtered air and sanitized with chlorine misters.

Proper safety measures can help prevent the growth of microorganisms and the accumulation of particulates such as dust. Microorganisms that can harm food and, consequently, people are airborne and live within droplets, according to Food Safety Magazine. If the air is unfiltered, this could pose a challenge to facilities that wish to keep their structural features, such as overhead pipelines, clean and sanitized. As a best practice for food manufacturers, facilities should have filtration systems to safely remove airborne contaminants and improve the air quality of the building.

Sources for Contamination

When monitoring the air quality for food production factories, companies should note the physical volume of the facility as well as likely sources of food contamination and vulnerable areas in production lines. Sources of contamination could include raw materials used for production, packaging and movable equipment. Since machinery can generate exhaust, placing extractor arms near this equipment can effectively control potential air contamination. People can also bring particulates into the workplace as employees can track in dust and dirt on their feet or clothing. Dust can also cause micro-organism growth unless these particulates and various other contaminants are captured by air filtration systems.

Controls for Contamination

Temperature is an important factor for how food manufacturers can prevent airborne contamination, according to a report by Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences.

“The simplest, most straight-forward method of controlling processing room air conditions is to make sure that all HVAC units are in good working order and consistently maintaining temperature,” the Auburn University study said. “Additionally, doors to processing rooms should be kept closed at all times to reduce the chance of cross contamination and to assist the cooling units in maintaining temperature.”

Of course, proper air filtration goes hand-in-hand with temperature control. Food Safety News suggested the type of products within the facility that are being processed should determine the amount of filtration for incoming air. For example, products that are susceptible to contamination on a micro-level should utilize the highest standard filters.

It is also important to keep ventilation systems running as the risk of contamination grows as time passes.

“It has also been shown that as the day progresses, the amount of air contamination increases,” Auburn University researchers said. “In fact, as the week progresses, there is an increase in the overall contamination of air with bacteria and mold.”

Industrial and manufacturing news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.

Control Laser Surgery Smoke and Gases with Fume Extractors

Control laser surgery smoke and gases with fume extractors 1

One of the latest medical breakthroughs to come out in recent years has been laser or electrosurgery, which allows doctors to cut into skin with unparalleled precision to separate unhealthy tissue from patients or stop blood vessels from bleeding. However, while performing potentially life-saving laser surgery, medical professionals may be exposed to smoke and inhale toxic gases and vapors. With the health of surgeons, nurses and other workers on the line, hospital and medical facility employers should ensure workers are safe in a contaminant-free work space using air filtration systems.

Health effects of laser surgery smoke and gases

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said nearly 500,000 workers are in contact with smoke plumes during laser or electrosurgical procedures annually. What is contained in these smoke plumes are gases including benzene and formaldehyde as well as biological and microbial material, such as viruses.

“As such, they can produce upper respiratory irritation, and have in-vitro mutagenic potential,” OSHA said.  “Although there has been no documented transmission of infectious disease through surgical smoke, the potential for generating infectious viral fragments, particularly following treatment of venereal warts, may exist.”

The smoke given off during laser surgery is associated with a number of health effects, such as upper respiratory tract irritation, especially if workers are exposed to high levels of these air impurities, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Controlling the risk of plume exposure during laser surgery

While OSHA does not have standards associated with controlling the risk of laser/electrosurgery plume exposure, NIOSH states that employers could use ventilation techniques to reduce the amount of laser smoke from surgical procedures. Workers can employ a combination of general room and local exhaust ventilation, but they will have to implement more controls to remove contaminants effectively. NIOSH suggests using air filters to extract smoke from the workplace.

“A high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or equivalent is recommended for trapping particulates,” NIOSH said. “Various filtering and cleaning processes also exist which remove or inactivate airborne gases and vapors.”

One air filtration solution that is regularly implemented to remove microbial material is the use of fume extractors. Placing extractor arms near laser surgery equipment will help ensure that these toxic gases and smoke do not enter the medical staff’s breathing space and affect their health.

Hospital and medical facility news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.

Dental Aerosol Contamination Management and Indoor Air Quality Measures

Dental Aerosol Contamination Management and Indoor Air Quality Measures 1

As we have all learned during our heightened state of pandemic awareness, a healthy indoor air quality is a medical necessity. Especially for first responders and other medical workers. But when it comes to the risk of harm from infectious disease, there are other industries that are considered high-risk; such as the dental profession.

THE PROBLEM

There are occupational health risks that threaten the well-being of dentists, their staff, and the patients they serve. The main risk dental office workers face is contracting illness which is caused by the aerosols created during patient treatment. Dental aerosol contamination of the indoor medical environment occurs when germs from an infected patient become airborne and linger.

DENTAL AEROSOL CONTAMINATION DEFINED

The human mouth contains innumerable germs/microbes that can spread through casual contact. But the greatest risk is through aerosolization such as a cough or a sneeze. But germs may also be spread during routine dental procedures and oral surgery that generate their own aerosols.

Dental aerosol contamination can be defined as the splatters, mists, and droplets created from the use of certain dental instruments. These fine sprays and particles include saliva, blood, plaque, and oral debris and can travel distances up to 20 feet and linger in the air and on surfaces long after the patient has left the office.

To illustrate the significant threat that dental aerosol contamination  poses to the dental community, consider the information from a recent article published about contamination longevity for the COVID 19 virus.

Coronavirus germ life:

• On plastic and stainless-steel surfaces, the virus is viable for up to 72 hours.
• On cardboard surfaces, up to 24 hours.
• On copper surfaces, up to nine hours.
• Suspending in the environment, for up to three hours.

THE PROCESS: HOW DENTAL AEROSOL CONTAMINATION OCCURS

The chain of infection refers to the series of events that allow pathogens to cause infection in a person. This chain begins with an infectious agent, or pathogen, finding an instantaneous means of exit (sneeze, cough, or dental procedure).

A typical manner of transmission is when germ-laden saliva is projected via a cough or sneeze. But in a dental setting, this aerosolization is created by even standard procedures such as ultrasonic scaling, tooth abrasion or polishing, or operating an air-water syringe. The use of high-speed equipment such as scalers and drills in the presence of bodily fluids allows pathogens the opportunity to spread rapidly, making even routine dental procedures a potential threat. 

Add oral surgery to the list of procedures performed and there are a lot of aerosols emitted into the breathing space of the dental workers and other patients

Once an infected patient coughs or aerosols from a dental procedure are emitted, dental aerosol contamination occurs, and the time and distance traveled will depend on the size of the particles. Droplets are heavier and tend to fall and land at closer distances. As the droplets begin to evaporate, they diminish in size and float in the atmosphere where they become airborne vehicles of infectious transmission. See chart of transmission, below.

Dental Aerosol Contamination Management and Indoor Air Quality Measures 2

HEALTH RISKS

Every day pathogens are transmitted within a given community. Oftentimes, transmission happens between members who are either asymptomatic or who do not recognize their illness or understand that it is contagious. Therefore, dental practices should treat all patients as if they can transmit disease.

The health risks vary from viruses such as the common flu or coronavirus to bacteria such as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. The number of microbes at large will vary as will the severity of illness they can cause due to time, location, and the health and vulnerability of the individual who contracts the illness. For example, viruses, such as COVID 19, are smaller than even the most minuscule of bacterial germs, are rapid reproducers, and are much more likely to cause illness which drives home the importance of eliminating the possibility that germs are spread within a dental office.

CONTROL MEASURES

To keep workers and patients safe, the goal should be to eliminate the vehicle of germ transmission by stopping it before it can become a problem. To do this, multiple precautionary strategies will need to be employed. No one’s defense against infection will work on its own. Only multiple strategies, working in tandem, will create a safe and healthy indoor air quality.

In addition to basic medical hygiene practices such as handwashing and the use of antimicrobial hand sanitizers, dental practices should adopt the following four-step method for the most complete means of keeping illness at bay: 

Proper safety protocol should always include:

1. PPE, personal protective equipment including gloves and facemasks
2. Antiseptic mouth rinse before and after a procedure
3. HVE, High-velocity air evacuation unit
4. Portable HEPA air filtration system

Following these control guidelines is the first step in preventing illness from taking hold of dental practitioners, hygienists, and patients. The second step is to contact an experienced indoor air quality specialist to find out what product makes sense for your practice.

At Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc., we provide our dental industry customers with our 30 plus years of indoor environmental experience as well as our high-quality air cleaning products. Contact us today and ask about our Extract-All 987 Dental Clean Air systems.