Infection Control: What you need to know.

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Infection Control: What you need to know.

Respiratory protection

Respirators better than surgical masks for infection control

Protect yourself


The longstanding belief that a surgical mask provides adequate protection against infections spread by droplets has been turned upside down by new research that finds respirators do a better job.

UNSW Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and PLuS Alliance Fellow Raina MacIntyre and her team have conducted the largest body of work internationally on masks and respirators, which was a finalist for the 2017 Eureka Prize in Infectious Diseases.

Hospital infection control guidelines worldwide recommend surgical masks for infections spread by droplets, such as influenza, which currently has Australia’s health system under huge pressure.

Professor MacIntyre and team tested the evidence for such guidelines. using data from two large randomised controlled trials involving 3591 subjects in Beijing, China.

The study, published in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses and available online, failed to show protection by surgical masks.

“We showed that even for infections spread by droplets, respirators protect better,” Professor MacIntyre said.

Surgical masks are loose fitting, disposable masks that cover the mouth and nose, while respirators are designed to fit closer to the face and to filter 95% of airborne particles.

“This turns upside down the long-held beliefs on infection control. It suggests that transmission of infection cannot be neatly classified as large droplets versus airborne particles.

“Probably infections we believe to be spread by large droplets also have some airborne transmission.”

This study confirms and reinforces that respirators should be used to ensure health workers are protected at the frontline.

Infections spread by the respiratory route are classified by their mode of transmission.

Airborne infections are transmitted via small, microscopic airborne infectious particles, which hover in the air for long periods of time.

Droplet transmission involves large, visible particles, which do not remain suspended in the air, like those expelled during coughing or sneezing.

Guidelines for prevention of influenza are based on the belief that influenza is mainly spread by droplets. However, many studies also show airborne transmission of influenza, and this study adds to the evidence.

The belief that a surgical mask is good enough for infection prevention and that the more purpose-designed respirators are not necessary came to the fore globally during the 2009 pandemic, and again during the Ebola epidemic of 2014, where many guidelines recommended surgical masks.

Drugs or vaccines are often unavailable during serious epidemics, and frontline health workers require protection from masks, respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE). During the 2014 Ebola epidemic, PPE was the mainstay of protection for doctors and nurses.

It is also important during influenza pandemics, as vaccine development can take six months from the onset of the pandemic.

“Our research has challenged entrenched practices in infection control from the outset,” Professor MacIntyre said.

“This study confirms and reinforces that respirators should be used to ensure health workers are protected at the frontline.

“It is time that guidelines reflect the available evidence, and that safety of health workers is prioritised.”

(Source: UNSW)

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ISO 16890 REPLACES EN779:2012

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ISO 16890 REPLACES EN779:2012

The ISO 16890 standard is LIVE and is the new global standard for testing and classification of air filters, and replaces the existing EN779:2012 norm. This new ISO 16890 standard is a big change in the way air filters are evaluated.

Why a new filtration standard ISO 16890? 
The new ISO16890 test method shifts the focus on filtration performance to the classes of particulate matter size (PM) and is therefore a much more realistic test criteria than the theoretical EN779:2012.

What is different?
This means that with the new ISO 16890 standard filter efficiencies will be determined based on particulate matter size classes PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 (also called ePM1, ePM2,5 and ePM10), which are also used as evaluation parameters by the WHO (World Health Organization) and other authorities. Based on these parameters it will be easier for users to select the right air filter based on their requirements.

ISO 16890 – The new group classification

The new ISO16890 standard divides air filters into four groups. A prerequisite for each group is that a filter captures at least 50% of the appropriate particle size range. If a filter, for example, captures more than 50% of PM1 particles, it will be grouped as an ISO ePM1 filter. The respective efficiency is then reported, rounded in 5 % increments.

Alongside fine dust filters, the new ISO standard also evaluates coarse dust filters as ISO coarse: that is, filters that capture less than 50 % PM10.

What does PM1 mean?

PM1 means all Particulate Matter with size smaller than 1 micron (a thousandth of a millimetre), just to be clear:

1µ= 0.001mm (=PM1)
2.5µ= 0.0025mm (=PM2.5)
10µ= 0.01mm (=PM10)

The benefits of ISO 16890

The new ISO 16890 standard offers several improvements when compared to the EN779 Standard:

  • One global international standard
  • The ISO16890 records their performance at a particle spectrum of 0.3 up to 10 microns (versus the EN779 test which qualified fine filter performance at 0.4 microns)
  • Fractional efficiencies of the filter prior to and after IPA discharge of any electrostatic properties can be seen.
  • Filters can be chosen for their specific performance related to the need of the application.

Are you ISO 16890 ready?

Click here to view



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March 13 – March 15Filtech: March 13-15 2018, Cologne, Germany Meet Irema at hall 11.1 stand a20

FILTECH is the largest and most important filtration event world-wide.
This Exhibition is a must for all those concerned with designing, improving, purchasing, selling or researching filtration and separation equipment and services. FILTECH is the international platform and solution provider for all industries covering every market segment.

Irema  launched our new ISO 16890 standard Media “MICROMELTB”  and everyone who came to see us on our stand in Cologne Germany for the 3 days  got to talk and Discuss the New standard and see first hand the New Media.

The ISO 16890 standard is LIVE and is the new global standard for testing and classification of air filters, and replaces the existing EN779 :2012 norm. This new ISO 16890 standard is a big change in the way air filters are evaluated.

Irema have an established track record at Filtech of new business, and 2018 proved to be a bumper year in new sales contacts.

We look forward to the next time see you all Oct 2019 in Cologne.


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Palas-Air Filtration Seminar -ISO 16890

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Palas-Air Filtration Seminar -ISO 16890

Irema were invited to the first international Air Filtration Seminar on the new ISO 16890 by PALAS in Karlsruhe, Germany on the 21st & 22nd of November 2017

The Seminar was held as a forum, to discuss and debate current issues in filter testing.there were exciting lectures by speakers from universities and institutes, as well as from the industry regarding the following important points:

ISO 16890, new standardization for indoor air filters

Test of compressed air filters

New developments of filter test systems

Ageing effects on filter elements


The moderator, Prof. Dr. Eberhard Schmidt from the University of Wuppertal, guided everyone through the seminar program.


Following the Air Filtration Seminar, we  did a workshop including the demonstration of  filter test rigs at Palas® on the next day (22nd November 2017). This workshop gave  additionally  insight into PALAS calibration laboratory with the new calibration test rigs for aerosol spectrometers and condensation particle counters.



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Filtech 2016

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Filtech 2016

Thanks to everyone who visited us at our stand at Filtech 2016. It was great to meet old friends and make so many new ones. Already looking forward to Filtech 2018.

Filtech 2016
Filtech 2016
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