20 May 2020
We inhale over 3,500 gallons of air each day. The air surrounding us is filling our lungs contains billions of particles too small to be seen, but powerful enough to impact our health.

The air we breathe at home, work, and school may contain a variety of contaminants in the form of gases and particles emitted by office machines, cleaning products, construction activities, carpets and furnishings, perfumes, cigarette smoke, water-damaged building materials, microbial growth (fungal, mold, and bacterial), insects, and outdoor pollutants. 

An extensive body of scientific evidence demonstrates that short and long-term
exposure to fine particle pollution, also known as fine particulate matter (PM), has
harmful effects on the cardiovascular system, respiratory system and may even cause premature death. 

PM (Particulate Matter) in the air is a mixture of solids and liquid droplets. The world’s leading health-related organizations consider PM10, PM2.5 and PM1 fine dust tractions as the most important and dangerous for humans. The smaller in size, the more dangerous it is. 

                            Picture 1: PM count effects on human health

Now, let us learn how the deadly pandemic Corona virus and PM count relate!

Researchers at Harvard University conducted an analysis of 3.080 counties in the United States. For this study, health data has been provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) & state government at the county level and pollution data has been created by fusing PM2.5 measures from ground-based monitors, GEOS-Chem chemical transport models (CTM) & satellite observations. They found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in the air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease. People in areas with high levels of pollution are 15 percent more likely to die from the coronavirus.

“This study provides evidence that counties that have more polluted air will experience higher risks of death for Covid-19,” said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at Harvard who led the study.

Picture 2: Correlation between PM 2.5 and Covid-19 deaths 

In 2003, Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang, the associate dean for research at the University of California, Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health, found that SARS patients in the most polluted parts of China were twice as likely to die from the disease as those in places with low air pollution.

Beth Gardiner, a journalist and the author of “Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution,” said she was particularly worried about what the coronavirus outbreak would mean for countries with far worse pollution, such as India. 

Patients who already have respiratory issues and illness will be at higher risk and will not have enough immunity to fight COVID-19 impact further.

Let us know the most common source of fine particulate matter. It majorly comes from fuel combustion, like automobiles, refineries and power plants and tobacco smoke. Breathing in such microscopic pollutants, experts said, inflames and damages the lining of the lungs over time, weakening the body’s ability to fend off respiratory infections. 
Importance of Air Filtration at Healthcare facilities:
Healthcare facilities pose a unique design challenge as the systems ful¬l a broad range of ventilation requirements and provide protection from airborne hazards. Clean air is vital in hospitals and clinics to protect patients, staff and visitors from airborne diseases and infections and they face unique challenges in controlling airborne pollutants and gaseous contaminants especially considering that patients may have suppressed immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections. Healthcare workers, who spend many hours a day in facilities with potentially poor IAQ are frequently at greater exposure to infectious agents.

Will HEPA filter serve the purpose?
As global climate change rapidly, air filtration solutions are challenged daily. 
It is recommended to upgrade the current secondary ¬filter which will be usually a bag -filter or pocket ¬filter to HEPA ¬filter. e.g. if there is a M5/F7 pocket fi¬lter in AHU as the last stage it should be replaced with HEPA till the time there is a threat. The challenge remains if the arrested virus gets a breeding ground on the HEPA media surface which can be taken care by practicing fumigation of the whole air circuit periodically. For critical areas, fumigation might be required every day.

AAF manufacture filters in ISO 8 cleanroom and it has India’s first auto-scan test machine.