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Collection of biological and non-biological particles by new and used filters made from glass and electrostatically charged synthetic fibers.

Raynor PC; Kim BG; Ramachandran G; Strommen MR; Horns JH; Streifel AJ
Indoor Air 2008 Feb; 18(1):51-62
Synthetic filters made from fibers carrying electrostatic charges and fiberglass filters that do not carry electrostatic charges are both utilized commonly in heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. The pressure drop and efficiency of a bank of fiberglass filters and a bank of electrostatically charged synthetic filters were measured repeatedly for 13 weeks in operating HVAC systems at a hospital. Additionally, the efficiency with which new and used fiberglass and synthetic filters collected culturable biological particles was measured in a test apparatus. Pressure drop measurements adjusted to equivalent flows indicated that the synthetic filters operated with a pressure drop less than half that of the fiberglass filters throughout the test. When measured using total ambient particles, synthetic filter efficiency decreased during the test period for all particle diameters. For particles 0.7-1.0 mum in diameter, efficiency decreased from 92% to 44%. It is hypothesized that this reduction in collection efficiency may be due to charge shielding. Efficiency did not change significantly for the fiberglass filters during the test period. However, when measured using culturable biological particles in the ambient air, efficiency was essentially the same for new filters and filters used for 13 weeks in the hospital for both the synthetic and fiberglass filters. It is hypothesized that the lack of efficiency reduction for culturable particles may be due to their having higher charge than non-biological particles, allowing them to overcome the effects of charge shielding. The type of particles requiring capture may be an important consideration when comparing the relative performance of electrostatically charged synthetic and fiberglass filters. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Electrostatically charged synthetic filters with high initial efficiency can frequently replace traditional fiberglass filters with lower efficiency in HVAC systems because properly designed synthetic filters offer less resistance to air flow. Although the efficiency of charged synthetic filters at collecting non-biological particles declined substantially with use, the efficiency of these filters at collecting biological particles remained steady. These findings suggest that the merits of electrostatically charged synthetic HVAC filters relative to fiberglass filters may be more pronounced if collection of biological particles is of primary concern.
Aerosol-particles; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Air-conditioning; Air-conditioning-equipment; Air-quality-measurement; Biohazards; Biological-effects; Dust-measurement; Dust-velocity; Electrostatic-filters; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-methods; Filter-fabrics; Filter-materials; Inhalants; Inhalation-studies; Magnetic-properties; Mathematical-models; Microorganisms; Microscopy; Particle-aerodynamics; Particle-counters; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Physiological-effects; Pressure-testing; Quantitative-analysis; Standards; Statistical-analysis; Ventilation; Ventilation-systems; Author Keywords: Air filters; Efficiency; Electret; Heating ventilating and air-conditioning; Microorganisms
Peter C. Raynor, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health, Mayo Mail Code 807, 420 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
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Journal Article
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Indoor Air
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Page last reviewed: April 9, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division