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The New Blueprint: Particulate Matter Control in Modern Construction

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When your hospital or medical facility is looking to upgrade or expand, you’re likely already considering the potential interruptions, noise levels, and changes to daily operations while construction activities are happening. Outside of these factors and overall infection control throughout the process, you’ll want to make sure that you’re considering the impact of the dust and debris that will become airborne. 

Construction sites are notorious for kicking up large amounts of potentially dangerous particles — whether debris from construction materials, chemicals, and cleaning products, or standard dust particles — these airborne pollutants can cause major problems for immunocompromised patients and those with sensitivities and allergies. Effectively removing these airborne pollutants is vital not just for the safety of construction crews but also for ensuring the healthiest environment for patients, students, and others. Take control of Particulate Matter (PM) in your facility with a foundation of knowledge and equipment to reliably comply with safety regulations and maintain the highest levels of safety in your facility, even through disruptive construction and renovation projects. 

Dust Control: More Than Just Keeping Things Clean

Dust is not just a nuisance. Even common dust can act as a home for microorganisms that are capable of sneakily surviving for extended periods and quickly spreading around your facility. While a dusty environment doesn’t always feel like an emergency, it can be deceptively dangerous to disrupt long-settled dust. Dust can cause mild to severe reactions in sensitive patients under normal circumstances, but this is only intensified when larger-than-average amounts of particulate matter are launched into the air during construction activities. This dust can infiltrate HVAC units, contaminating the rest of the facility and worsening the issue by not capturing particles effectively. 

Airborne spores can cause diseases, particularly in hospital or medical center patients who are already at risk of hospital-acquired illnesses (HAIs) and often have compromised immune systems. Your challenge as a facility manager is to not only understand the risks and dangers of unchecked dust and debris, but also to formulate a strategy to keep your construction project compliant, healthy, and safe for everyone involved. 

Fighting Back with HEPA Filtration

A standard “true,” or certified, High-efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter undergoes intense testing and certification to ensure it can reliably filter out 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. Typically, standard HEPA filters are categorized as H10, H11, or H12. H10-H12 levels of filtration are commonly found in household air purifiers, HVAC systems, vehicles, and even some vacuum cleaners. Adding such a filter to your equipment or in surrounding areas, and choosing equipment backed by these filters, can significantly enhance air quality with a relatively simple swap. 

Similarly, there are also H13 and H14 category filters which provide a higher standard of air filtration and are considered medical-grade filters. These are the gold standard for the ultimate hospital and medical center filtration due to their capacity to filter out even the smallest of particles.With a heightened filtration ability, these are an excellent choice when patient safety is at risk. They are HEPA certified just like the H10-H12 filters, but they are capable of capturing much smaller particles, locking away 99.97% of particles down to .03 microns in size. While medical-grade HEPA filters are not necessary for most areas in your facility outside of highly sensitive areas like operating rooms or high-risk patient spaces, the H13 and H14 categories provide an increased air quality that is appropriate for areas where the smallest amount of contamination could have major repercussions in your medical facility. 

To decide which makes the most sense in your facility, you’ll want to consider the risk posed to the particular area of your facility that you’d like to add filtration as well as the type of particles that you’re most concerned about. Once you have a solid understanding of what kind of particulate matter is posing the biggest threat to your patients and staff, you’ll be able to confidently choose the right level of filtration. 

Clearing the Air: Proactive Approaches to Particulate Matter in Healthcare


Particulate matter is no small factor when it comes to maintaining a clean and healthy environment for your patients and staff. Particularly when construction activities pose an increased risk, it’s critical that you and your team take all of the necessary precautions to either remove harmful particles from the air altogether or implement ways to direct them outside. 

Here are a few strategies that will support a higher level of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ):  


Introducing clean outside air into a building can drastically reduce the concentration of contaminants, including airborne pathogens. This strategy hinges on the quality of the external air being clean and safe, but it provides a relatively quick and easy way to make a big difference to your air quality without the need for extensive strategies or expensive equipment. 

Air Distribution:

Optimizing the location, direction, and velocity of air outlets is crucial in keeping cross-infection to a minimum. Adjustments in temperature and humidity settings can also be made to create an environment less conducive to virus survival. 

Specialized equipment like HEPAFORCE® AIR Negative Air Machines can be used to boost your air distribution as well. For example, with a negative air machine, your facility can isolate areas, such as active construction areas or patient rooms with an artificial airflow. Maintaining slightly lower air pressure in these zones prevents airborne particles — like construction dust and debris — from escaping and potentially causing irritation for patients and staff. 

Air Filtration:

If ventilation and directed air flow aren’t enough, air filtration systems are a powerful way to take control of the quality of indoor air in your facility during construction or renovation activities. Equipment like our HEPACART® Classic was built with safety and air quality in mind, capturing airborne particles from the air with a built-in HEPA filtration system and locking them away. When you take advantage of HEPA filters, you’re able to drastically improve the air quality of a space, even when ventilation and strategic air distribution aren’t a good solution on their own. 

Air Disinfection:

While conventional UV-C radiation is widely used for disinfection purposes, newer technologies like Far-UV-C offer a safer and potentially more effective alternative for air disinfection, neutralizing pathogens without the health risks associated with traditional UV-C light. While this method doesn’t necessarily remove particulate matter from the air, it kills the pathogens, limiting the harmful potential. Disinfection is ideally used in addition to other methods of ventilation or filtration to create not only healthier air, but cleaner air altogether. 

Guard Against Particulate Matter With HEPA Filtration

When you prioritize the health and safety of your facility’s indoor air with HEPA filtration, you’re powerfully able to make strides in creating the best possible environment of working for your staff and healing for your patients. However, not all HEPA filters are created equal. Don’t be fooled by intentionally misleading HEPA filtration knock-offs such as “HEPA-like” or “HEPA-style.” While these might seem to be a similar option — often boasting a lower price — they are not truly HEPA-certified or tested. Also, be sure that whichever HEPA filter category you choose is the best fit for your facility’s needs. Whether this is a standard HEPA filter at an H10-H12 or their medical-grade counterparts at H13-H14, your choice will make a world of difference to the safety and peace of mind that you’re able to offer your entire facility. 

A Breath of Fresh Air: Committing to Superior Indoor Air Quality in Healthcare

The health and safety of patients and workers, and the overall indoor environment of your facility, are significantly influenced by how you manage dust and debris. Recognizing the risks associated with pollutants makes it clear that air filtration is an essential component in any medical facility's health and safety protocol.

To understand more about the differences between HEPA and ULPA filters and to equip your facility with the knowledge to make an informed decision, download our comprehensive guide. Take the next step in safeguarding your indoor environment today.

Download ULPA vs. HEPA Guide

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