FDA IAQ Compliance Requirements In Food Production

During the fall of 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a rule regarding preventive controls of human food. The final rule is part of the legal obligation of the FDA to provide guidelines that align with the Food Safety Modernization Act, a law signed into legislation in early 2011.

According to the FDA, the law is one of the most comprehensive reforms of food safety laws in the last 70 years. Prior to the signing of FSMA, laws were designed to respond to food contamination outbreaks. That has now changed, as the focus shifts more to preventing contamination.

Statistics from 2014 collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that throughout that year, 846 foodborne illnesses were reported, with 13,246 individuals falling ill and 21 fatalities. To help prevent these outbreaks, the FDA’s rule establishes regulations for manufacturers and compliance requirements to ensure food doesn’t become contaminated during the production process. These regulations specifically outline sanitary guidelines, which include air filtration systems.

Food production line.

What is the rule?

Preventive controls of the finalized rule indicate that within a food-processing plant, systems are required to ensure hazards are eliminated or minimized. The FDA stated that this requirement covers food allergens and sanitation controls.

While food manufacturing plants are likely outfitted with air filtration systems, the FDA has imposed compliance deadlines to ensure all aspects of food processing follow the rule and have the proper air filtration systems in place. Small businesses will have two years to comply, very small organizations, defined as, defined as those with less than $1 million in annual revenue, will have three years and every other company must comply in a year of the final rule’s publication.

Role of Air Filters in Food Production

Air filters, specifically HEPA filters, clean out the air when various foods are manufactured. It’s a process a majority of consumers likely don’t think about as they sit down to eat at the dinner table, but it’s one that has a huge effect on the final product.

For example, the process of making yogurt involves the filtration of plant air, according to Michael Bryne, a business and technical manager at EHL Group, a company that specializes in various engineering fields. He stated in a LinkedIn post that yogurt facilities need point-of-use air that is filtered to a sterile level, otherwise the final product may not turn out as intended.

Food processing plant managers and executives will have to ensure their facilities are outfitted with air filtration systems to minimize the risk of food being exposed to contaminants. Since companies will have time to comply with the FDA’s final rule regarding preventive controls for human food, they can contact Air Impurities Removal Systems to find the best filters available to use during the food production process.

Spa and Salon Worker Transmission Risk

Indoor Air Quality and Covid-19

spa and salon worker transmission risk

Indoor Air Quality in spa and beauty salons has been a concern since the dawn of their opening. For hair shops, cancer-causing formaldehyde was enemy number one due to the toxic fumes emitted from perms, dyes, and hair straightening treatments. For nail salons, it was the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) present in lacquers, adhesives, and polish removers that presented the most serious occupational health risk. While those problems still exist, both spas and salons now have another potentially serious health concern: COVID-19.

As part of the US Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has long been the protector of the American worker. Volumes of standards and recommendations have been published benefiting laborers across all industries, including those employed at spas and salons. From ventilation recommendations for nail care personnel (1) to tips on avoiding chemical exposure for salon staff (2), OSHA has taken the lead in protecting employee health.

Now, in our country’s seventh month of pandemic-related closures, many local safety guidelines are being lifted and, in many areas, spas and salons are reopening. Is it safe to reopen? How at-risk are workers and the patrons they service?

The World Health Organization, which deemed COVID-19 a global health crisis, (3) explains its path of transmission:

COVID-19 spreads between people through direct, indirect (through contaminated objects or surfaces), or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions. These include saliva or respiratory droplets that are released from the mouth or nose when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, for example. People who are in close contact with an infected person can catch COVID-19 when those infectious droplets get into their mouth, nose or eyes. People with the virus in their noses and throats may leave infected droplets on objects and surfaces when they sneeze, cough on, or touch surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs and handrails. Other people may become infected by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, noses or mouths before cleaning their hands.

Spas and salons, like any place where people from different households gather, are potential breeding grounds for viruses. These types of businesses are often smaller, tighter spaces that create an environment ripe for germ-sharing. Every spa table, sink, chair, and surface are possible hot spots for transmission. If even one hairbrush or cabinet knob has a communicable microbe, a virus can infect nearly everyone in that shop or salon in a matter of hours. That’s what makes cleaning and disinfecting so crucial.

But COVID-19 transmission is more common by way of airborne respiratory droplets, meaning that the biggest risk of viral spread comes from sick people, not from objects. An obviously ill worker is duty-bound to stay home. But what about the asymptomatic stylist who talks or clears her throat nearby or who, accidentally coughs near another person? The aerosols from that person can linger in the air and circulate. Which is to say, cleaning the air is as important as cleaning surfaces.

Even before COVID-19 hit the scene, the CDC made recommendations for controlling unhealthy occupational exposures in the form of their Hierarchy of Controls model. (4) This model offers five ways to reduce transmission among workers by adopting into practice the various control methods.

Spa and Salon Worker Transmission Risk 1

While social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and wiping down surfaces make workplaces safer, the most effective control measure is elimination. It is often the most difficult “control” to implement due to cost and any potentially complicated mechanical structures that exist in a building. Among the list of control measures, the CDC suggests these engineering initiatives as additional preventive measures: (4)

  • Use ventilated tables or portable ventilation units, if available. Move the ventilation units to make sure they do not blow air from one person to another.
  • If possible, salon owners and managers should work with facilities (building) management to adjust the ventilation so that the maximum amount of fresh air is sent into to client spaces, while maintaining the humidity at 40-60%. If possible, increase filter efficiency of HVAC units to highest level possible.
  • Consider using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units to remove contaminants and clean the air.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) underscores the CDC recommendations by advocating for the use of portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to reduce transmission threat in higher-risk areas (5) (such as waiting areas and spaces where multiple stylists and/or customers are located).
What makes using these air cleaners with HEPA filtration a powerful tool against viral transmission is that these products are designed to draw in polluted air and filter out the impurities. Quality air cleaning and filtration units are proven to reduce airborne contaminants, including particles containing viruses. Portable air cleaners (also known as air purifiers) may be particularly helpful. By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. But when used alongside other control methods recommended by the CDC air filtration can be an effective means to protecting spa and salon workers and their customers.

Our Salon Pure Air line of air filtration and purification products not only removes fumes and odors from the source but with our 987 AMB HEPA Room Air Scrubber also removes up to 99.99% of fine particulates floating in the air – keeping both workers and customers breathing clean air and feeling secure. Contact Air Impurities Removal Systems Inc. to speak to one of our clean air specialists.

No Matter Your Industry, HEPA Filtration Improves Indoor Air Quality

Building managers in various industries have a lot of tasks to oversee, including everything from ensuring elevators are working to lighting and electrical maintenance.

But perhaps no task is more important than maintaining the building’s air filtration system. In industries where workers are involved in labor-heavy tasks or craftsmanship, air quality levels are hugely important. For example, welding and cutting stones and concrete result in fine particles being thrown into the air.

Without the appropriate ventilation systems or filters, these particles can gradually become dangerous to individuals who inhale them on a consistent basis. Lung cancer, kidney disease and other illnesses are only some of the dangers these workers face as a result of these particles being in the air. Even office environments can be subject to dirtier air than one might imagine.

Air filters are only one component of keeping workers safe and healthy. To help ensure the cleanest air possible, the HVAC systems at worksites and offices should be outfitted with HEPA filters.

What is a HEPA filter?

Short for high-efficiency particulate air, HEPA filters are among the best a building manager can install and utilize.  Manufacturers of HEPA filters must meet strict requirements for the filters to be classified as such.

The U.S. Department of Energy requires HEPA filters to capture 99.7 of particles larger than 0.3 microns. Air particles are caught through either interception, impaction or diffusion.

Where can they be used?

The best aspect of Hospital HEPA filters is the number of places they can be used. Cars and airplanes have them, but so too do a number of important pieces of infrastructure.

HEPA filters are prominent in manufacturing plants, offices and perhaps most importantly, medical buildings. Hospitals, even the enclosed areas patients are kept if they are contagious, are filled with allergens, germs and other particles dangerous to an individual’s health. HEPA filters are an important defense to ensure hospital staff and visitors don’t contract serious diseases.

But as the days and months pass, HEPA filters will need to be replaced. If not, their effectiveness wears out.

As such, HEPA filters should be checked every six to 12 months for efficiency. Otherwise, new HEPAs will need to be installed.

Companies and building managers looking to improve the air quality should utilize HEPA filters. Doing so can help eliminate and catch dangerous allergens and pathogens. By contacting Air Impurities Removal Systems, companies can utilize HEPA filters no matter the industry.