How can air purifiers help aged care facilities protect residents and staff from harmful viruses?

GAMA Healthcare Australia Pty Ltd
By Kate Smith, Head of Clinical Solutions, Training and Support – GAMA Healthcare (RN/RM, GCertNurs, Cert IV TAE)
Monday, 28 March, 2022


As winter approaches, with its associated colds and flu, many aged care and long term care facilities will be looking for additional methods to protect their residents and staff.

A recent Australian study identified that clean surfaces, ventilation and air filtration play a key role in preventing the indoor spread of viruses such as COVID-19. This research demonstrated a 67% reduction in aerosols compared to environments where there are no air purifiers.1

The addition of air purifiers is a cost-effective way to improve air quality and reduce potentially harmful circulating particles such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, dust, mould, smoke and odours.

But how do you choose the right air purifier for your facility? Uncovering the following information from your air purifier manufacturer will ensure you have the correct information required to make an informed decision before purchasing.

Does the air purifier contain true High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters?

HEPA filters trap very fine particles from air and are classified according to the percentage of particles they trap. Medical-grade HEPA 13 filters will reduce 99.95% of airborne particles, whereas HEPA 14 filters will remove 99.995%. This means it will be 10 times more efficient, offering further peace of mind.

The addition of pre-filters protects and prolongs the HEPA filters’ life, and carbon or charcoal filters reduce unwanted odours. Filters must be changed according to each facility’s Infection Prevention policy, but an air purifier unit with a change of filter notification system will aid timely removal and replacement.

Air quality sensors

Auto-mode makes managing air quality simple. An air purifier that senses the air quality and automatically adjusts the speed will ensure the space has optimal air quality. Look for:

  • Automatic mode — This means the appropriate speed will be automatically selected, depending on the current air quality.
  • Low light sensors and night mode — In low light conditions (e.g. at night), the fan speed will automatically reduce, providing a quieter environment for a peaceful sleep. All lights and displays are turned off and the fan runs at its slowest speed.
  • Turbo mode — Made to provide maximum decontamination, turbo mode allows the fan to operate at its highest speeds for fast, effective purified air.

Understanding airflow

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is based on how fast air flows through the filters and how effective those filters are. When comparing units, always ask the manufacturer for the CADR, not the flow rate. The CADR of a machine impacts the size of the room it can be used in.

Air changes per hour (ACH) are a practical way to estimate ventilation in a space. The CADR of your air purifier and the volume of your room determines your ACH. Ask your manufacturer for these specifications so you can compare and contrast the differing versions.

Robust evidence and supportive documents, which include HEPA filter capacity, CADR, and ACH specifications provided by your air purifier manufacturers, will aid your decision process.

Understanding these factors is essential when selecting the right air purifier to improve the air quality within your aged care facility, protecting your residents and your staff.

Reference:

1 Buising KL, et al. (2021). Use of portable air cleaners to reduce aerosol transmission on a hospital coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ward. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, https://doi.org/10.1017/ice.202284.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Rawpixel.com

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