De voordelen van luchtfiltering

In een eerste artikel legde ventilatiespecialist Jim St. John uit wat tabaksrook nu precies inhoudt.

In een tweede artikel laat hij zien dat uitspraken als zou luchtfiltering niets uitrichten tegen omgevingsrook een fabeltje is: overal ter wereld worden mensen via luchtfiltering beschermd tegen allerhande giften in de omgeving. Giften, die in bijna alle gevallen heel wat gevaarlijker zijn dan tabaksrook.

Al deze mensen voelen zich veilig bij deze technologie maar de anti-roken pressiegroepen brengen deze mensen allemaal aan het twijfelen door hun vreemde beweringen. Maar minstens zo erg is dat ze bedrijven en individuen de mogelijkheden onthouden om op een plezierige manier hun werk te doen….

Tobacco prohibitionists have targeted manufacturers and marketers of high-efficiency air filtration equipment for abuse, because that industry stands between their goals and those who would choose the option of mechanical solutions to air quality issues.

By manufacturing what is commonly known as “gas masks” the air filtration industry protects both military and civilians from a vast spectrum of toxins and carcinogens. For many decades, it has been proven that air filtration technology is the first line of defense against airborne pathogens…radioactive particulates, asbestos, nerve gas, anthrax, benzene, formaldehyde, lead, hexavalent chromium…the list is endless. Millions of military personnel and private sector workers worldwide depend on air filtration technology to provide them with protection to keep them alive and healthy.

Operating rooms in hospitals are protected by air filtration. Bioscience laboratories use air filtration to confine pathogenic bacteria and viruses to fume hoods where analyses and experiments are conducted.

There is an immense record of independent certification of filtration technology that is in the public record, but the anti-smoking industry has devoted much of their millions in resources to try to convince people who depend on air filtration to protect their health that such measures are not effective. So what do we tell workers at the Hanford nuclear cleanup site in Washington State? What do we tell asbestos abatement workers? What do we tell manufacturing workers applying adhesives or coatings with carcinogenic methyl-ethyl-ketone solvents?

Air filtration technology is certified effective in these environments, but when it comes to a relatively benign exposure such as diluted tobacco smoke, air filters “do not work”, (according to “health physicists” like James Repace, a contractor for nicotine replacement promoter Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. What kind of a message does that send?).

In their zeal to promote smoking bans, prohibitionists do a disfavor to millions of workers worldwide who can benefit from cost-effective air filtration solutions to air pollution that they breathe as a condition of employment. Toxic and carcinogenic pollutants in workplaces will be with us as long as our industrial society exists. Telling certified lies about the effectiveness of air filtration technology is a disservice to workers and will result in illness and death if employers and workers believe the propaganda.

Unlike prohibitionist claims that are uncertified, most commercially available air filters are subject to rigorous and independently certified testing recognized worldwide by government and military testing protocols. Tobacco prohibitionists have no interest in funding certified measurements of air filtration technology, because they know that such objective measurements will not support their cause.

It is a fact that high efficiency air filter systems are capable of capturing environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) at levels equaling or below laboratory detection. However, not all systems are alike, and some highly popular “air cleaning” systems are completely ineffective for abating tobacco smoke. It is important that as we continue this discussion, we focus proven technology with a certified track record of effectiveness not only against tobacco smoke, but a host of airborne irritants and pathogens. Tobacco smoke is not a special, unique smoke that should make those who don’t smoke unusually afraid, but just part of the two tablespoons of particulates we inhale and process every day…just like our kids do around a barbeque or a campfire or in their school bus.

Unlike prohibitionists who are free to say anything they want—wild estimates and unproven theories—the air filtration industry is held to independently conducted laboratory testing to certify the effectiveness of the product they sell. One of the most respected testing laboratories in the world, Air Filter Testing Laboratories in Louisville, KY, will provide manufacturers with test results of their product that no amount of money can influence. What would be the motivation for a widely respected laboratory to destroy their reputation by lying about results for an individual customer? Why would they want to sell fake results to all comers, likewise risking their reputation?

In the case of HEPA filters, which are manufactured to a military specification for use in radioactive and other highly toxic environments, faking a testing result could result in criminal liability. Selling a HEPA filter that is not a HEPA filter is risky business indeed.

OK, what exactly is a HEPA filter, you might ask. HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air, and is tested to perform at 99.97% efficiency in the capture of particles .3 micron in size. For reference, the smallest particle visible by the naked eye is 10 microns. A HEPA will capture most particles smaller than .3 micron, but not at the same certified efficiency. I designed and installed a tobacco smoke abatement system for a customer in 1994 that filtered air from a smoking area to non-smoking room that used HEPA filtration for particles and activated charcoal v-banks for gas vapors. It was tested by the customer by a certified laboratory, which found all significant markers of tobacco smoke to be below threshold levels of laboratory detection.

Despite what the prohibitionists claim in support of their cause, air filters are highly effective in protecting workers and the public from a big spectrum of particulates and gas vapors. This statement is not merely a “claim”, but the result of decades of well-documented scientific analysis.

Every industry has its fringe players who promote technologies that are ill-suited to the application or are ineffective. For decades, purveyors of ozone generators have made claims that they are effective in precipitating particulates to the floor, or that they convert hydrocarbon chemical gasses such as formaldehyde into carbon dioxide and water. Wrong. In the presence of safe levels of ozone, or “activated oxygen” as promoters sometimes call it, the half-life of formaldehyde is 4,000 years. There is only one class of chemicals that reacts rapidly with ozone—alkenes such as styrene—which in turn break down into ethylene and formaldehyde. Hardly a desired result. Our testing has shown that ozone generators will actually elevate particulate levels because of its oxidizing action on various chemical compounds in a room.

If you are interested in reducing levels of tobacco smoke indoors, filterless electronic ozone-generating gizmos are a waste of money. Promoters of electronic, filterless odor and chemical vapor controllers are promoting ozone, a toxin itself, that simply masks one smell with another. Another class of electronic filtering devices, electrostatic precipitators, is effective in reducing particulates, but does nothing to capture gas vapors.

A cost-effective and efficient filtering media for tobacco smoke particles in restaurants and bars is 95% ASHRAE rated borosilicate fiberglass media. HEPA filters are also highly effective, but costly to replace. There is some ongoing debate about the best way to go about tobacco smoke control, but over the last 20 years the trend has been toward fiberglass, HEPA and charcoal. Ozone is untested, ineffective, but well marketed on TV and radio. Ionizers can precipitate smoke in a small area, but it adheres to walls, ceilings, floors, décor, clothing, skin, hair and lungs. Yuck. Just like the legendary free lunch, there is no cheap filterless way to eliminate tobacco smoke.

For those who are interested in creating indoor spaces that are comfortable for smokers and non-smokers who wish to socialize together, there are effective mechanical strategies to abate tobacco smoke to levels 10-15% of what would otherwise exist, or for isolated rooms, 0%. In the next posting on this subject, we’ll look at some ways that it can be done.

Jim St John

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  • "Es ist schwieriger, eine vorgefaßte Meinung zu zertrümmern als ein Atom."
    (Het is moeilijker een vooroordeel aan flarden te schieten dan een atoom.)
    Albert Einstein

  • "Als je alles zou laten dat slecht is voor je gezondheid, dan ging je kapot"
    Anonieme arts

  • "The effects of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn't worry me."
    Sir Richard Doll, 2001

  • "Een leugen wordt de waarheid als hij maar vaak genoeg wordt herhaald"
    Joseph Goebbels, Minister van Propaganda, Nazi Duitsland

  • "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
    Mahatma Gandhi

  • "There''s no such thing as perfect air. If there was, God wouldn''t have put bristles in our noses"
    Coun. Bill Clement

  • "Better a smoking freedom than a non-smoking tyranny"
    Antonio Martino, Italiaanse Minister van Defensie

  • "If smoking cigars is not permitted in heaven, I won't go."
    Mark Twain

  • I've alllllllways said that asking smokers "do you want to quit?" and reporting the results of that question, as is, is horribly misleading. It's a TWO part question. After asking if one wants to quit it must be followed up with "Why?" Ask why and the majority of the answers will be "because I'm supposed to" (victims of guilt and propaganda), not "because I want to."
    Audrey Silk, NYCCLASH