What to do When Flooding Occurs in a Hospital

What to do When Flooding Occurs in a Hospital

Hospitals, like all buildings, are subject to maintenance, repair, and restoration needs, sometimes at a moment's notice. Few building emergencies are worse than flooding. Whether it’s natural disasters flooding from heavy rain and hurricanes, or floods from equipment failure like burst pipes, floods are an emergency that can keep building managers up at night. This is perhaps more so in hospitals where increased regulations and patient safety concerns are cause for special precautions. 

Protecting Patients

When flooding occurs in a hospital and remediation is required, the number one priority is to protect patients throughout the process. After all, patients come to hospitals to be cured, not put in harm's way. In the case of hospital construction, maintenance, or restoration, one of the first steps is to construct containment walls around the affected area. Like isolating a patient, construction areas need isolation, too. With flooding, contractors need to contain the affected area to stop the spread of mold into adjacent spaces. In many cases, poly sheeting will be used to create a containment space. In high risk environments and larger disaster areas, drywall may be required. 

Once the containment is in place contractors create a negative pressure environment using HEPA-filtered negative air machines or portable air scrubbers. Creating a negative pressure environment helps ensure that unfiltered air inside the containment area does not leak out. The HEPA-filtered negative air machines and portable air scrubbers draw contaminated air in, filter the air, and then exhaust the filtered air out of the containment area through ductwork. Federal, state, provincial, local, and facility regulations will determine whether HEPA air can be discharged inside or whether it needs to be directed outside. 

Acting Fast

In cases of flooding, acting fast is imperative. Mold grows in 24-72 hours, and the longer a building stays wet, the longer mold has to grow. Once mold grows, it becomes much more difficult to get rid of and can be a health risk. Therefore, remediation teams must act fast. However, constructing traditional walls can take days. That’s where the SHIELD WALL® comes in. Unlike traditional walls, these lightweight polycarbonate walls are easy to transport and can be set up by a small team in a matter of hours, not days, allowing remediation teams to quickly get to work.

Reducing Waste

In an emergency, it’s a natural human instinct to get the job done as quickly as possible. One might choose to use whatever materials are readily available, which might not be the most financially conscious or sustainable route. Using single-use solutions only adds more to the financial burden. When hospitals construct temporary drywall walls to contain construction and remediation areas, the walls are discarded afterward. With skyrocketing lumber prices, this is an excess cost that adds up over time. With reusable containment walls, like the SHIELD WALL® System, companies can reuse the same containment walls for years in a row, saving money and promoting more sustainable business practices. 

Hospital Flood Abatement: A Case Study

Curious about what this looks like in real life? Request a case study below to learn how Northern Manitoba Regional Health protected patients, acted fast, and reduced waste by using the SHIELD WALL® System when a pipe burst overnight, dumping 70,000 gallons of water into a mechanical room and operating room. 

The Top 4 Considerations When Evaluating Portable Air Scrubbers

Airflow ratings can be very misleading: The cheapest units are often the most costly

When purchasing portable air scrubbers for use on restoration and/or mold remediation projects, there are many factors that should be considered in selecting the proper piece of equipment. Too many times airflow (or claimed airflow) and price are the only issues considered before a purchase.  All too often the contractor finds that the equipment does not meet their expectations or needs when it arrives. 

1. Ease of transport

This is one of the most important, yet most overlooked, aspects of portable air scrubbers. Scrubbers must constantly be moved from job to job and from location to location during a project. Some units are designed for one-person operation; others may require two people to move. Weight is very important, but so is weight distribution. Scrubbers that include a transport system for easy movement by one operator are safer and more cost-effective to operate. A stair climber is also a valuable feature when stairs are a factor. Size and weight should also be considered when thinking about transport and vehicle requirements.

2. Air scrubber filtration system

The filtration system is the heart of a portable air scrubber. Poorly designed filtration can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars in annual operating costs. Filters must provide a substantial dirt-holding capacity and long filter life without significant airflow loss. A well-designed filtration system requires three stages of filters to progressively filter all particle sizes. If odors and particulates are to be removed simultaneously, a fourth stage of gas/odor filtration may also be needed.

Easy “no tools” access is important when inspecting and replacing dirty filters. The filter module should not have to be removed to change or inspect filters. This is time consuming and can also cause debris to be spilled onto the HEPA and the surrounding area.

HEPA filters must be individually tested by the filter manufacturer and certified to a minimum efficiency of 99.97% at 0.3 microns. It is not enough to simply assemble a filter using HEPA media. A true HEPA filter must be constructed to the exact manufacturing practices necessary to ensure that the finished filter does not leak through the filter media or around the frame or seams. If debris can bypass the HEPA media, the filter will not pass DOP testing required in many abatement specifications. Insist that the HEPA filter itself be certified to HEPA standards, with a certification label affixed to the frame of the HEPA filter.

3. Blower type

Air scrubbers are required to trap large quantities of debris. Debris buildup on the filters hinders the airflow and causes what is technically known as static resistance. Specific blowers are much better suited than others for overcoming this resistance. There are many types of air moving blowers available, each with specific characteristics for certain applications. 

For example, forward-inclined “squirrel cage” blowers are designed to move large volumes of relatively clean air and low static resistance. These inexpensive blowers may be suitable for applications such as use in a furnace or even in an asbestos negative air machine; they are not, however, a very good selection for use in an air scrubber.

Backward-inclined or airfoil type blowers are a much better choice since they are engineered with the capacity to overcome the pressure drop of dirty filters. The use of this type of blower will not only increase filter life but will also produce higher airflow as the filters begin to accumulate debris. This generally means significantly better performance (airflow) over the life of the filters and much lower replacement filter expenses than a scrubber or negative air machine that is equipped with a forward inclined blower with a comparable peak airflow rating.

4. Materials and construction methods

Most negative air machines position the blower at the outlet of the cabinet, and pull air through the cabinet. This keeps the entire cabinet – including the section downstream from the HEPA filter - under lower (negative) pressure compared to the air in the surrounding area. With this design, the machine must be perfectly sealed to prevent contaminated air from being sucked into the cabinet and exhausted without ever passing through the HEPA.

This is a big concern when the unit is used as a negative air machine and exhausts air into another part of the facility, especially if that area is occupied. Any such leaks will negate the effectiveness of the HEPA filter and will more than likely cause contamination of the area and failure of any air testing required by the job specification. This should be an important liability concern of any mold abatement contractor.

Generally, the use of  gaskets and solid rivets produce the most leak free cabinets. Beware of any cabinet that uses fasteners such as hollow pop rivets, or threaded fasteners such as sheet metal screws or nuts and bolts. These devices do not afford the airtight seal necessary to keep small particles from infiltrating a negative pressure cabinet.

Fun fact: It has been found that sub-micron particles can actually travel along the threads of a screw or bolt!

Lastly, make certain that any hardware, instruments, or transport system components that penetrate into the cabinet are sealed in such a way as to prevent any leakage or bypass. For more information on evaluating portable air scrubbers contact us!

The Secrets of Negative Pressure Containment

The Secrets of Negative Pressure Containment

The average hospital lasts more than 40 years, and often as many as 100 years. If you've ever considered buying an old house, or seen others do it on TV, you know just how much renovation and maintenance they require. Now multiply the square footage by more than 10, and you can imagine how much renovation is consistently needed in hospitals not only to keep them going but to continually improve services and meet changing building requirements.

While renovation and maintenance projects may pose little more than an inconvenience to homeowners, they require special attention in healthcare facilities because of the danger that airborne particles, spores, and pathogens released into the air by construction pose to patients. In order to carry out essential construction and maintenance work without harming patients, construction zones must be sealed off from patients, and air must be filtered and diverted away from vulnerable patients. 

To do this, facilities must perform Negative Pressure Containment. 

What is Negative Pressure Containment?

By its very definition, a negative pressure room has more air exiting it then entering. There is less air inside the room compared to the other rooms, hence why it is negative. What this does is ensures that any airflow outside of the HEPA exhaust is flowing into the room to fill that vacuum. Because airflow can only flow in one direction through the cracks or designated makeup air locations, the contaminants cannot escape the room.  Always check regulations when exhausting inside a healthcare facility as regulations can vary.

How to create Negative Pressure Containment

There are four key steps to creating negative pressure containment:

1. Construct a physical barrier around the area. 

Product Tip: You can do this with Abatement Technologies' AIRE GUARDIAN® SHIELD

2. Seal off any HVAC Returns

Tip: This ensures that dirty air does not escape into the rest of the building. 

3. Filter air in the sealed room with a portable air scrubber (PAS)

Product Tip: Use a HEPA-AIRE® or PREDATOR® series Portable Air Scrubber (PAS) from Abatement Technologies.

4. Use a PAS (portable air scrubber) to exhaust the filtered air out the construction zone through duct work

Product Tip: Find compatible duct here

Get it right everytime

Before attempting to create negative pressure, use our air change calculator to determine your airflow needs. Once you’ve followed the four steps above, use a portable differential pressure monitor for the most accurate reading of your negative pressurization. 

Ready to learn more about Abatement Technologies? Contact us today!

Critical Environment Protection

Critical Environment Protection

HEPA based high-quality air filtration equipment

A Critical Environment is any area where something can be easily affected by external contamination. Our experience working with companies that have to do dirty jobs in critical environments started in the 80's with asbestos abatement. The job of removing asbestos required contractors to enlist preventative measures to control dangerous dust particles and that's where we found our niche and specialty. Making high-quality air filtration equipment that incorporated HEPA filtration to remove 99.97% of any airborne particulate that was 0.3 microns or larger.

This created a natural expansion into healthcare construction, as infrastructures age the need to renovate facilities without shutting them, because these types of renovations would be happening alongside occupied patient areas and patients, especially those that are immunocompromised and susceptible to infection from the slightest airborne contamination our specialized equipment was again brought into play, by allowing contractors to contain their construction site and use negative pressure and HEPA level filtration to help prevent the spread of those dangerous contaminants to patient occupied areas.

Recently we have seen the expansion of what would be considered critical environments. These include Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Storage Facilities, Electronics Manufacturing Facilities, Food and Beverage Manufacturing, Data Centers and Server Rooms as well as the expanded concern about construction around employees in any operational work environment.

Our high-end selection of HEPA based air filtration equipment, portable containment solutions, temporary barriers systems, and pressure monitoring equipment combined with our knowledgeable sales consultants make Abatement Technologies the perfect partner for a project in any critical environment.

Principles and importance of negative pressure containment

Dust control equipment and containment barriers create a cleaner, healthier environment for employees, sensitive equipment and manufacturing processes.

Learn how our dust control and air purification products can help maintain a productive indoor environment during construction in government facilities, office buildings, schools & universities, retail operations, storage facilities and manufacturing operations.

Product selection and application assistance

High-efficiency, HEPA-filter dust control equipment and containment barriers from Abatement Technologies® can help isolate and remove particles released into the air during construction, renovation and day-to-day maintenance activities. Our state-of-the-art, cost-effective solutions are used every day to help protect workers, building occupants and production lines from exposure to hazardous pollutants and odors that can negatively impact employee health, comfort and damage sensitive equipment. Abatement Technologies® particle control products can also save time and money by reducing clean-up labor during and after the job.

Learn how our dust control and air purification products can help maintain a productive indoor environment during construction in government facilities, office buildings, schools & universities, retail operations, storage facilities and manufacturing operations.

Contact us for more information! 

7 FAQ’s About Asbestos Abatement Equipment

7 FAQ's About Asbestos Abatement Equipment

Frequently asked questions about HEPA-AIRE® Negative Air Machines for asbestos abatement.

Does the machine actually produce the airflow you think you’re getting?

One of the most confusing, inaccurate and potentially misleading methods of testing this is ‘free air’, which is nothing more than the test bench rating of the blower. The airflow produced by the device will be up to 60% lower when the blower is enclosed in a cabinet and must pull air through the resistance of the filters.

The airflow comparison chart shows that the true airflow of negative air machines can vary substantially from brand-to-brand because different suppliers use different rating methods and components. Click here to view the chart.

Does the HEPA filter truly provide 99.97% HEPA filtration?

A filter made with HEPA media may or may not provide true HEPA efficiency. Serious leakage can go undetected if filters are not individually tested and certified at the end of the manufacturing process in accordance with IEST-RP-CC001.3 guidelines for Type A HEPA filters. Even the tiniest pinhole leaks in the media or breach of the seal between the media pack and the filter frame can cause the filter to fail efficiency requirements. If this happens, contaminated air can pass through the filter and be exhausted into ‘clean’ areas of the facility.

HEPA testing requires very specific procedures using a thermally generated mono-dispersed aerosol and a laser particle counter. Test results, including test airflow, percent penetration, date of manufacture and other detailed information must be included on a label affixed to the filter. Testing should be conducted at the rated airflow of the machine. A filter designed for and tested at 1,000 cfm or 1,100 cfm may provide significantly lower efficiency at 2,000 cfm. If the filter label simply states “99.97% HEPA Filter” or “2,000 CFM HEPA Filter”, but does not include all of the detailed testing information, it’s probable that the filter has not been individually tested.

Is the machine designed to prevent bypass leakage around the HEPA filter?

Even the best HEPA filter can’t prevent contamination problems if the machine is not designed to prevent contaminated air from bypassing the filter. Look for important contaminated air bypass prevention features such as:

• Flat, rigid HEPA sealing frames with no welds or other surface irregularities that can disrupt the seal

• Seamless poured closed-cell neoprene gaskets or silicone gel seals as opposed to gaskets with seams or made from open cell foam

• Solid rivet fasteners versus weaker and potentially leaky hollow pop-rivets or metal screws.

• Sealed control panels

Is the machine safe?

Why take the chance on an untested and potentially unsafe machine? OSHA (U.S.) and CSA (Canada) require electrical safety testing and certification by an approved Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), such as UL, CSA or ETL. This overall testing is required even if the individual electrical components are all NRTL listed.

Contractors may be surprised to learn that the HEPA-AIRE® Negative Air Machines manufactured by Abatement Technologies® are currently one of the few brands that meets these requirements. All Abatement Technologies negative air machine models are certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL)., and carry their ETL/ETLC mark for safe operation on 115V/15A electrical supplies.

What makes HEPA filters so efficient?

The ultra-fine, glass-fiber medium captures microscopic particles that can easily pass through other filters by a combination of diffusion, interception and inertial impaction. To qualify as a Type A HEPA filter, the filter must capture at least 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size–about 300 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, and 25 to 50 times smaller than we can see.  To a HEPA filter, catching a one-micron particle is like stopping a cotton ball with a door screen.

Why is the testing done with a 0.3-micron particle size test aerosol?

Filter efficiency studies have shown that 0.3-microns is the "Most Penetrating Particle Size (MPPS)" for HEPA filter media. Efficiency is typically greater than 99.97% against larger or smaller particle sizes. Particles larger than 0.3 microns are typically more easily trapped, or intercepted, by the media. Smaller particles often lack sufficient mass to penetrate the media.

Does HEPA efficiency decrease as the filter gets dirty?

No. The dirtier a HEPA filter gets, the more efficient it typically becomes.

Have another question? Contact us

Things To Consider Before Comparing Airflow Ratings

 

Things to Consider Before Comparing Airflow Ratings

Why airflow ratings can be very misleading and the cheapest units are often the most costly.

No industry-standard airflow rating method

There is no standardized method that manufacturers use to rate the airflow of their air filtration devices. Different methods can produce widely varying and often misleading results, and make direct comparisons between brands difficult if not impossible.

Compare ‘Apples & Oranges’

The most overstated and inaccurate method used bases device airflow ratings on the AMCA “free air” blower rating, which is a test bench measurement of the airflow the blower can produce at various motor horsepower levels with no static resistance. Since actual peak airflow with the cabinet and filters in place is typically 50% to 80% lower, free air is essentially meaningless when it comes to rating the device itself.

Inlet or outlet readings with an air-straightening duct attached to reduce turbulence are far more accurate. This testing is generally done using a computing vane anemometer or pitot tube traverse to determine the average velocity (in feet per minute) and airflow (in cubic feet per minute) flowing through the air straightening duct. Attempting to measure airflow at non-laminar inlet and outlet openings is not recommended.

Peak airflow is only part of the story

Even when accurate, peak airflows can be misleading because they provide only a small part of the performance picture. It's often a mistake to automatically conclude that the performances of two devices are equal just because their peak airflows are similar. The airflow of all filtration devices drop off as resistance to airflow increases due to filter loading, external collars or flex duct. The magnitude and frequency of these losses; and therefore how frequently filters must be replaced to restore acceptable airflow levels can vary greatly.

Peak static capacity of the blower and filter dirt holding capacity are the main factors that determine 'real life' airflow and filter life. As a rule, a backward curved blower can move more air than a cheaper but less efficient squirrel-cage blower, due largely to its ability to operate at much higher 'tip speeds' and therefore overcome higher levels of resistance. This higher capacity, in turn, extends the useful life of the filters and can make a higher price but more efficient system far less costly to operate.

Build in a sufficient margin of safety

To compensate for airflow losses, users should build in a safety margin when estimating how many units are required to provide a given number of ACH (air changes per hour). If the objective is 6 ACH, designing for 8 or 9 ACH at peak airflow should be more than adequate to ensure sufficient airflow throughout the filter loading cycle provided that the peak airflow rating is reasonably accurate.

See which, and how many units you would need for the appropriate amount of air changes per hour based on your room size with our Air Change Calculator

Contact us for more information!

 

Translate
 

Reusable Modular Walls Are Becoming The New Standard

5 Reasons Reusable Modular Walls are Becoming the Standard for Temporary Dust Barrier Walls

Air quality in healthcare facilities is a worldwide concern. In March 2022 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the            Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, a call to action for building owners of all kinds to take measures to reduce risks from airborne viruses and other containments indoors. This challenge encourages healthcare facilities, and others, to create an action plan for clean air, optimize air ventilation/filtration, and to showcase their efforts to building occupants and on social media. However, this challenge does not fully explore how maintenance and renovation efforts in healthcare facilities can negatively impact air quality.

Standard practice for healthcare facilities in the United States and Canada  is the requirement of a temporary dust barrier wall during renovation and maintenance operations. Depending on the amount of dust expected to be disturbed during construction activity, contractors may opt to contain their area with plastic sheeting, drywall or with the latest innovation - a reusable modular containment system.

Ultimately, patient safety is a priority for healthcare facilities worldwide but worldwide government initiatives are driving the need for proper containment with new regulations. . Construction can cause substantial dust contamination and scatter large amounts of fungal spores, like aspergillus, to patients without protective measures. Here are five reasons why a re-usable,  modular containment system is the new method your team should be deploying and why they are becoming the standard. 

1. Successful Containment 

Contractors should choose the best tools for the job to ensure Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) compliance and superior infection control. They need a temporary containment system that seals, is easy to assemble and seamlessly incorporates other infection control equipment including HEPA level portable air scrubbers, HEPA vacuums and air pressure monitors. 

Truly successful temporary containment should also not disrupt the flow of the hospital. These re-usable, modular containment barrier walls provide contractors with a professional look that easily hides construction activities from patients and healthcare workers. To ensure clean visuals, some companies offer that the containment panels can be customized with the facility’s personal logos and graphics.

2. Maintain Pressure and Airflow

Contractors must have the necessary equipment to filter and monitor airflow within the containment area created by the temporary dust barrier walls. 

One of these necessary items would be portable air scrubbers with HEPA level filtration exhausted to either an existing indoor ventilation system or direct ventilation to the outdoors through an exit point such as a window or wall portal. Another would be a fixed or portable differential air pressure monitor that has visual or audio alarms, ensuring that the pressure and airflow is constantly controlled and recorded.

3. Reduce Hospital Acquired Illnesses 

Hospital-acquired-illnesses are of a significant concern for everyone who steps foot in a hospital, including patients, visitors, or employees. This is especially important for patients that are immunocompromised and susceptible to infection from the slightest exposure to dust contaminants.  Inhalation of indoor air pollutants from construction can negatively impact patients with chronic lung diseases but this can be prevented with effective dust control through containment units and barriers.

A modular containment system deployed before and during construction, where containment is properly ventilated and airflow is HEPA filtered, will prevent further infection and liability to the hospital and its workers. 

4. Reduce Costs and Speed Up Construction Timelines

The upfront fees and the time it takes for contractors to build traditional drywall barriers can be high, as the costs include materials, labor, disassembly and disposal of materials. Modular containment systems may appear more expensive initially but when you factor in the overall time savings at the build site in addition to compounded savings job over job, going modular far outweighs the cost of drywall assembly.  

A modular, adaptable containment system can fit into any job site and if it is reusable, you're not creating waste when it's time to move to the next job, compounding materials savings over time.

5. Promote Proactivity 

Throughout the history of healthcare construction new innovations have made a huge impact in patient and worker safety. Now, modular containment systems are the next generation of temporary dust barrier walls since they can get construction started with less labor, less time, and virtually less dust.

Since they are able to easily incorporate existing hospital construction equipment, they are simply superior to other temporary methods. Through standardization, the re-usable panels and doors are helping contractors to become more efficient and more environmentally friendly with each project.

How do I get started?

Easy-to set-up temporary dust barrier walls from companies like Abatement Technologies® can remove additional stressors from maintenance operations with adaptable designs for every job. The AIRE GUARDIAN® SHIELD is modular and is designed to reduce contamination challenges for contractors working in critical environments and can help you achieve the five points above and more.

If you are a building operator in the United States or Canada and would like to find out more about Abatement Technologies offerings, please reach out on our website and you will hear from our team shortly.

Translate
 
Translate