Most cleanroom professionals understand that Fan/Filter Units (FFUs) capture contaminants that degrade particle-sensitive samples. But they also remove bacteria, viruses and mold spores that contribute to a host of infections.
With the threat of superbugs on the rise in medical facilities, sterilization has never been more crucial. Superbugs, or drug-resistant bacteria that cannot be killed by standard antibiotics, have the potential to cause infections that are increasingly difficult to cure. The number of deaths related to these bacteria is decreasing. But the bugs, and the danger, remain present.
Until new cures are developed to battle bacteria, the solution to preventing the spread of germs is to update cleanliness procedures in hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities and other places where drugs are regularly developed or used. Hand-washing can push back against the threat, but it’s important to implement protective measures against any potential breach, not just the hands of staff, equipment or patients. Airborne particulates present a hazard, too—and Fan Filter Units can help.
The filters inside the FFUs play the key role in the containment of pathogens. Most common bacteria are caught by the 0.3-micron pore size of High-Efficiency Particular Air (HEPA) filter at 99.99% efficiency. To protect critically sensitive environments, Ultra-Low Penetration Air (ULPA) filters, which are rated 99.999% efficient at retaining particles of 0.12 microns and larger in diameter, capture ultra-fine contaminants for ultra-sterilized air.
Additionally, HEPA filters comb air to remove pollen, tiny insects, bacteria, mold and other fungal spores that might be present during plant tissue culture or cannabis production. Contaminants such as these can find a way in via personnel or normal HVAC units and can blight crops, and if they are not caught, they can infect consumers as well. HEPA Filters help increase crop yields, meet regulations to pass inspection, and reduce contamination.
These filters also remove aerosol-born pathogens—germs that hitch a ride on larger particles and liquid droplets. HEPA- or ULPA-based FFUs can play an important role in infection prevention in surgical theaters, ICUs and other medical settings where the health of the patient depends on a sterilized environment.
FFUs are more than just a box to check on your ISO requirements list. They protect patients, personnel, products and so much more from the dangers of bacterial infection. FFUs keep medical and manufacturing facilities secure so that they can continue to create health solutions for the future without the worry of airborne pathogens.
Here is a list of common human pathogens that HEPA/ULPA filters capture and remove from circulation: