In our previous blog post, we touched on the role of air conditioning in today’s hospital environment, including the importance of temperature in specialist procedures like open-heart surgery and neonatal. Due to their potentially life-saving nature, medical facilities’ HVAC systems must also provide ventilation that maintains appropriate indoor air quality, controls infection, expels contaminants, and establishes an environment conducive to medical procedures and healing.
Likewise, the air integrity within research facilities’ “clean rooms” must be environmentally controlled to keep concentration of airborne particles (contaminants) within specified limits. Clean rooms are used in a number of industries critical to improving society’s health, including the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and medicine, medical devices and biotechnology.
Air from outside clean rooms must be filtered to exclude dust, and air inside them is constantly re-circulated. As a means of removing contaminants in clean room applications, all air entering a clean room must be treated by one or more filters, the most common of which are high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) and ultra-low penetration air (ULPA).
HEPA filters, as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy standard adopted by most American industries, remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in diameter. Meanwhile, ULPA filters remove at least 99.999% of airborne particles .12 microns or larger.
Controlling sub-micron airborne contamination in a clean room requires controlling the total environment, including airflow, pressurization, temperature, humidity and specialized filtration. This makes HVAC a key component in maintaining the integrity of the clean room environment.