Molecular filtration in life sciences

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Strictly controlled environments (clean rooms) are necessary to maintain efficient air quality free from airborne contaminants in life science and pharmaceutical processes. While most HEPA air filtration systems focus on providing particulate free air, it should be considered that there are non-particulate molecular contaminants that cannot be controlled by conventional particulate filtration technology.

Some of the most important molecular contaminations involved in pharmaceutical processes include:

Chemical vapor: Some substances used for medical production or in medical laboratories are in liquid form and could produce a critical vapor pressure. This means that the liquid turns into vapors to varying degrees at room temperature or during laboratory tests.

Examples of liquids that can be harmful to personnel in a gaseous state include sulfuric acid (H2SO4), formaldehyde (CH2O), or ether (C4HtenO). If inhaled, harmful vapors can cause damage and, in the most unfortunate case, death depending on the concentration. There are strict national and global rules and regulations regarding the emission levels of certain critical contaminants, to ensure protection and healthy working conditions for all personnel.

Odour: In pharmaceutical production molecules and chemicals are used, sometimes intentionally to flavor, and when used in high concentrations they can cause strong odors. Some biopharmaceutical processes also release hydrogen sulfide (H2S) which has a very unpleasant odor which is also noticeable at very low concentrations.

Decontamination: When cleanroom processes have been compromised and have been exposed to contamination, it becomes necessary to decontaminate the cleanroom and equipment before resuming work. This involves disinfecting the cleanroom and equipment with a cleaning agent in gaseous form such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and due to toxicity, gas concentration levels must be reduced before the room can be safely used again by personnel. It may take several hours.

In addition, ethylene oxide (C2H4O) is used to sterilize materials and instruments that do not tolerate heat, humidity or abrasive chemicals, such as bandages, sutures, surgical instruments, syringes, endoscopes, devices with built-in electronics , devices with sensitive optics, etc.

Corrosion: The by-product of some life science production processes can emit corrosive gases. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a corrosive gas that can corrode materials, especially electronic equipment used in production. A frequently used decontamination agent in life science applications is peracetic acid (C2H4O3) and it can be corrosive to some materials.

Sources of indoor contaminants and chemicals

A summary of sources of indoor contaminants and chemicals in life science cleanroom environments may include:

Chemical / Chemical family Interior Exterior Source
Ozone Outside Exhaust gases from vehicles, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants and other sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight
Nitrogen dioxide Outside Vehicle exhaust, power generation
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) Interior Exterior Very diverse range of chemicals. Materials used in the construction and finishing of buildings, cleaning products, cosmetics and perfumes, dry-cleaned clothing, fire-retardant treatments, cafeteria odors
Aldehydes Interior Exterior Vehicle emissions (diesel), industrial emissions, photochemical degradation of other air pollutants
Formaldehyde (the lightest aldehyde) Interior Exterior

Hospitals (mortuary, pathology), pressed wood products, carpets, cigarette smoke

Styrene Interior Plastic equipment used in IVF procedure and other plastics in the clinic
Peracetic acid Interior Cleaning / decontaminating / sterilizing agents used to treat processes and premises. In hospitals used to decontaminate endoscopy equipment
Hydrogen peroxide Interior Cleaning / decontaminating / sterilizing agents used to treat products, processes and premises
Ethylene oxide Interior Cleaning / sterilizing agents used to process products in the production of medical devices, dental or veterinary clinics

Molecular filtration

Molecular or gas filtration is a common method of removing unwanted gases and vapors from the air, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone, aldehydes, formaldehydes, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and styrene molecules.

Activated carbon, impregnated activated carbon or chemical mixtures of activated alumina are generally used to capture and remove these unwanted gases and vapors from the air using the adsorption process. Common molecular filtration products use these blends of activated carbon and chemical media embedded in filtration media to create molecular filters in panel or compact style, or as loose granules housed in different types of housings or cans. molecular filtration.

Molecular filtration can meet the challenges of production in life science and pharmaceutical processes, with the following benefits:

  • Eliminate harmful fumes to improve air quality and ensure protection and healthy working conditions for all staff.
  • Remove harmful odors to improve air quality for staff and neighboring businesses and residential areas.
  • Eliminate corrosive gases to protect equipment and ensure safe and stable production.
  • Rapidly reduce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) Toxicity levels after decontamination to enable faster cleanroom recovery, saving downtime and valuable money.
  • Help your facility comply with industry guidelines and regulations.

Camfil molecular filtration for life science applications

Global manufacturer of clean air solutions Camfil offers a complete line of filtration solutions designed to improve indoor air quality by removing airborne ultrafine particles, VOCs and toxic, hazardous, corrosive or odorous gases.

Camfil offers a variety of molecular filtration solutions to support cleanroom life science applications including:

  • Combined molecular particulate and air filters designed for HVAC applications
  • High efficiency compact style molecular air filters for air handling units and clean room enclosures
  • High Efficiency Panel Style Molecular Air Filters for Clean Room Ceilings
  • Deep bed molecular filtration housings for exhaust air applications
  • Activated carbon, activated alumina and custom mixed media for molecular air filter housings
  • ProSafe CC 6000 mobile air filter with particulate filtration using Camfil Absolute â„¢ HEPA filters or E11 rated filters and molecular filtration using custom activated carbon or gas filtration options. Camfil ProSafe products comply with BRCGS food safety standards to help food and pharmaceutical processing facilities comply with strict industry standards for safety, traceability and control.

For more information on our range of molecular filters, visit https://www.camfil.com/en-au/products/molecular-filters.


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