Common Problems with Negative Air Machine Setup
A negative air machine is a critical tool in your dust containment arsenal. Without the ability to create a negative air pressure environment, it becomes virtually impossible to ensure that all hazardous particles are properly contained.
If you have not worked with negative air machines before, figuring out how to set one up to meet all containment measures may seem a bit daunting, but it does not have to be. Below are a few tips to ensure you set up your containment area to provide a clean, safe work environment for patients, workers, and any surrounding personnel.
Improper Area Containment
Negative air machines can only be effective when the entire job site or containment area is properly walled off from the surrounding building. To create a safe space for dust containment, permanent or temporary barriers must enclose the space so that a negative air pressure environment can exist. The best way to ensure a space is set up correctly is by continuously monitoring the air pressure in the containment area.
Air Scrubber vs. Negative Air Machine Setup
Although the functionality of an air scrubber and negative air machine is essentially the same, the two applications require a different setup, which can cause some confusion. Both air scrubbers and negative air machines take air in, push it through a filtration process, and expel clean air. However, an air scrubber is used to improve the air quality in a certain area by recirculating the cleaned air while a negative air machine must be connected to ducting that exhausts the air outside of the contained area.
The use of a negative air machine tends to come along with regulations about air changes per hour, or ACH. In a hospital construction environment or other high-risk areas, it is critical that you construct a containment area that meets these regulations. ACH requirements may be anywhere between 6 and 12 ACH, which means that the air in the room must be completely replaced between 6 and 12 times every hour. Different negative air machines will result in different ACH capabilities, depending on the size of your containment area. Be sure to calculate the power required when comparing machines to ensure that you invest in the right tools.
Positive vs. Negative Pressure
There may come an instance where you need to create a positive air pressure environment. Luckily, this is entirely possible to accomplish with a negative air machine. To create a positive pressure environment, the only change necessary is to put the machine outside of the containment area and direct ducting into the area. Creating a positive air pressure environment may be necessary to keep a certain room from dust or hazardous particles in other parts of the building because HEPA-filtered air will be circulating into the space.
Setting up a negative air pressure environment is a critical piece of proper containment procedures and does not have to be overly complicated. To keep things simple, set up the machine according to manufacturer instructions as well as dust containment regulations and you can be sure you are creating the safest possible work environment.