As part of its filtration level upgrade service, HVDS is fogging air handling systems with a market-leading solution called Naturama. Naturama is a hospital-grade cleaning agent that kills at least 99.99% of all known bacteria and viruses – including coronavirus. Furthermore, it is 100% food safe, meaning that it is suitable for use in food production facilities.
Fogging on Customer Sites
HVDS engineers fog air handling units (AHUs) both before and after the filtration upgrade work is completed. This helps to eliminate contaminant particles in the system. In order to distribute the solution evenly, engineers use a fogging machine, which emits a fine, controlled spray. Watch our video of an engineer fogging an AHU here.
Naturama breaks down and neutralises bacteria on any surface. For the purpose of verifying the effectiveness of fogging, surfaces of the AHU can be swabbed and tested for contamination. These swab tests provide a reading within 20 seconds. In fact, rigorous testing of the solution using an ATP reader produces results as low as zero for viruses and bacteria present.
Protecting Your Workforce
For food production sites, it is important to sanitise the air handling system so as to safeguard your workforce against future coronavirus outbreaks. Read our case study to find out how we helped one of the UK’s largest food production sites, which had to temporarily close, due to a large number of coronavirus cases.
Environmentally Friendly Solution
Naturama is non-toxic and free from harsh chemicals, bleach and alcohol. In fact, it is made entirely from plants and minerals. Consequently, it is environmentally friendly. In addition, the solution has been tested to the highest standards, including BS EN 14476.
For more information about our fogging solution, Naturama, please see our ebrochure here. To find out more about the HVDS COVID-19 filtration level upgrade services, click here. Our experts are always on hand to take your call. Contact us on 01785 256976 or via our contact form here.
Grain dust can be harmful to human health. Employees working in certain industry sectors might be exposed to grain dust. These sectors include, for example, flour mills, food factories, animal feed mills, breweries, distilleries, agriculture, grain transportation etc.
According to the Health and Safety Executive,
“Grain dust is the dust produced from the harvesting, drying, handling, storage or processing of barley, wheat, oats, maize or rye and includes any contaminants or additives within the dust.”
In this article we look at the risk to health of grain dust and what employers should do to protect their workers.
What is the Workplace Exposure Limit for grain dust?
The Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) is 10 mg/m³ of grain dust averaged over eight hours. Employers must reduce individual employee’s exposure to below this and also to as low as is reasonably practicable.
Which processes produce grain dust?
There are a multitude of processes that can produce grain dust. These include, but are not limited to, moving grain in a grain store, milling and mixing dry grain, harvesting grain, cleaning silos, transferring grain to and from grain stores etc.
How can dust from grain be harmful to health?
When some people inhale grain dust it can trigger an allergic reaction in their respiratory system. Since the substance is a respiratory sensitiser, any subsequent exposure may cause respiratory disease.
In the short term, people who work with grain might experience the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin irritation
- ‘Grain fever’ / Organic Dust Toxicity Syndrome (ODTS)
More serious long-term respiratory complaints might include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Chronic bronchitis
- Farmer’s lung (shortness of breath and weight loss)
What should you do to protect your employees?
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002) require employers to:
- Assess the risk of grain dust to your employees’ health and assess the control measures they need to out in place to protect them
- Keep a record of the above if you have more than 5 employees and tell your employees about the assessment
- Prevent your employees’ exposure or adequately control it (where prevention is not possible) by providing them with suitable equipment to carry out their work safely
- Control exposure at source by providing adequate ventilation systems and putting in place organisational measures
- If adequate control measures cannot be achieved by other means, you should provide respirators, following consultation with individual employees
- Reduce exposure to below the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) of 10 mg/m3 of grain dust averaged over eight hours and to as low as is reasonably practicable, as outlined above.
In addition, employers must:
- Tell employees about the health risks of grain dust
- Train employees how to use the control measures you have put in place
- Maintain in working order all dust controls
- Monitor all dust controls to ensure that a) they are effective, and that b) employee exposure to this harmful substance does not exceed the WEL
- Organise health checks for employees
Click here for the Health and Safety Executive Guidance Note EH66 with regard to dust from grain.
How can HVDS help you control exposure?
At HVDS, we provide a range of dust extraction solutions to help you protect your staff. We design and install local exhaust ventilation systems (LEV) to keep your air clean. We also provide full aftermarket support, including regular servicing and testing of your LEV equipment to keep you up and running and compliant at all times. In addition, our spares department supplies state-of-the-art dust extraction parts. Click here for more information about our dust extraction services.
For more information, get in touch with one of our dust extraction specialists today on 01785 256976 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to school. Back to work. Back to normal? Not quite.
Since the end of lockdown, HVDS has been performing filtration level upgrades at a number of food manufacturing and commercial buildings across the UK. This is in response to the growing demand for virus-free air to keep the workplace environment safe. Coronavirus outbreaks among food factory employees have even led to the temporary closure of some production plants. This has disrupted the supply chain and cost companies money.
If you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees, we would recommend upgrading your filtration level to help guard against this situation arising in your production facility. Read our case study here.
HVDS engineers assess the needs of sites on an individual basis. Each site will have a different set of indoor air quality and filtration requirements. Furthermore, we take into account additional safety precautions when carrying out the work. These are all outlined in a COVID-19 protocol, agreed with the customer.
In order to ensure the elimination of all traces of COVID-19 from the air handling system, our engineers fog the air handling units (AHUs) with a market leading solution, before we remove the old, contaminated air filters. The solution we use is hospital grade and completely food safe. It kills 99.99% of all known viruses and bacteria, including Coronavirus. What’s more, it is made from natural plant extracts and minerals, so it is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and alcohol free.
Engineers then remove all filters at each filtration stage of the AHU and deep clean the systems using a food safe cleaning agent.
Air Filter Upgrade
The type of filters we recommend as an upgrade on your existing filters will depend on a number of factors, including the capacity of your fan. H13 HEPA filters are the most effective against airborne contamination. They guarantee to trap 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns in diameter or larger. Read more about HEPA filters here. However, not all AHU fans are capable of creating the extra airflow necessary to push air through HEPA filters. If this is the case, secondary filters can be increased to F9/ISO 16890 ePM1 80% (High Care Production requirement). Following installation of the finer grade filters, we fog the systems again to ensure eradication of any remaining virus and bacteria particles.
Find our more about our air filter replacment service here.
Before commencement and after completion of the work, surfaces of the AHU can be swabbed and tested for contamination. This helps eradicate any remaining contaminant particles.
HVDS is an Environment Agency registered waste carrier and will always dispose of your old filters responsibly. Disposal of filters is agreed with you prior to carrying out the work.
Finally, it is important to establish a more frequent filter change schedule, change filters to a set schedule rather than pressure drop and check filter frames at intervals to ensure an airtight seal. In addition to your air filter upgrade, we recommend implementing a more rigorous system cleaning schedule. Please also note that areas now falling under a higher risk category, as a result of the pandemic, are subject to more frequent ventilation cleaning.
According to the World Health Organisation, “Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018”. And lung cancer accounted for 2.09 million cases. Furthermore, inhaling certain types of dust found in the workplace, over a long period of time, can cause lung cancer. These dusts include, for example, silica dust and wood dust.
Saturday 1st August 2020 is World Lung Cancer Day. For this reason, we are taking a look at this most common type of cancer. In addition, we will examine how workplace control measures can help to prevent it.
Lung Cancer Caused by Silica Dust
Silica is a natural substance found in rocks, clay and sand in varying amounts. Sandstone contains 70 – 90% silica, whereas granite contains about 30%. Many construction materials contain silica. These are, for example, bricks, mortar, concrete and tiles. Cutting, grinding, drilling or polishing these materials creates a fine dust called respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Over time, workers with no protection inhale RCS deep into their lungs.
The human eye cannot see RCS under normal lighting conditions because it is too fine. For construction workers, it is the biggest risk after asbestos. RCS can cause lung cancer and other lung diseases. These diseases include silicosis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma, following prolonged periods of exposure.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE),
“Over 500 construction workers are believed to die from exposure to silica dust every year.”
The HSE has produced resources to help you control your workers’ exposure to construction dust. These resources can be found here. HSE’s Control of Exposure to Silica Dust is also a useful publication.
Employers must comply with The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002. This states that for RCS, control measures must keep exposure below the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL). The WEL for RCS is 0.1 mg/m3 respirable dust, averaged over 8 hours.
Lung Cancer Caused by Wood Dust
Wood dust is a known cause of lung cancer and other cancers, such as nasal cancer. It can also cause other diseases, such as asthma.
According to lung cancer physician, Lynne Eldridge, MD,
“While wood dust is more strongly associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, both people who are exposed to on-the-job wood dust, as well as those who work in occupations associated with the dust, have elevated rates of lung cancer.”
Read more from Lynne Eldridge, MD about wood dust exposure and lung cancer risk here.
As with RCS, COSHH regulations require that you protect workers from the hazards of wood dust. There are different WELs for hardwood and softwood dust. The WEL for hardwood is 3mg/m3 based on an 8-hour time-weighted average. This WEL also applies for mixtures of hardwood and softwood dusts). Finally, the WEL for softwood dust is 5mg/m3 based on an 8-hour time-weighted average.
The HSE recommends ways you can limit your workers’ exposure to wood dust here.
To summarise, you need to put in place controls to help protect your workers against lung cancer and other diseases caused by inhaling dust. These include providing them with the right respiratory protective equipment and putting in place effective dust extraction and local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems, such as dust extraction benches and hoods and other dust extraction systems.
Get More Information
As we return to ‘normality’ in the HVDS office, it’s good to see many of our staff members coming back into work. It’s been a long and unprecedented few months and we are pleased to say that we have risen to the challenge and ridden out the storm. Furthermore, the atmosphere continues to be one of positivity and pulling together to serve our customers to the best of our ability.
Our Lockdown Activity
During lockdown we have been proud to support the food industry. To this end, we have kept their HVAC systems in good shape to guarantee optimal indoor air quality and food safety. What’s more, we also took the opportunity to upgrade our internal systems and working environment. We:
- Rearranged the warehouse – we put new racking in place and reorganised our stock of air filters to make things easier for our engineers and our warehouse manager, Ian.
- Investigated smarter and new ways of working and communicating with our customers – to add even more value to the service we provide.
- Upgraded some of our workstations, including partitions for social distancing – to create an improved working environment for staff.
- Revamped the website – to help visitors find the information they need more easily. Take a look here.
We are, of course, doing everything we possibly can to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. In particular, we have a number of safety measures in place. We are also adhering strictly to government guidelines.
A big thank you to our staff members who have embraced new ways of working. Thank you also to our customers for all your support during these challenging times.
Looking to the Future
In conclusion, we have emerged from lockdown ready to help our customers with their filtration requirements. Most importantly, we are helping many of our customers upgrade their level of filtration. This will help protect their workforce and their sites from coronavirus outbreaks.
HVDS provides an air filtration and ventilation service to over 100 food production companies in the UK and Ireland. Our services include installation, maintenance and cleaning of your HVAC system for good indoor air quality and audit compliance. For more information, click here. Or to see how we could help your business, please get in touch with one of our air filtration specialists here.
It is well known that those who work with certain types of materials and products in the workplace can be at risk of ill-health due to the dust particles they emit.
Here are 5 facts about dust, however, that you may not be aware of.
1. It’s Not Just Your Lungs That Are at Risk
Most people are aware that breathing dust can cause all sorts of health issues, such as asthma and lung cancer. But did you know that dust particles can also be swallowed and get into:
- the digestive tract where it can cause irritation,
- the blood stream where it can damage other organs and tissues,
In addition, dust particles can get:
- into the eyes where they can cause eye damage or irritation, and
- onto the skin where they can cause ulceration and irritations, which can lead to dermatitis.
2. The Risks Are Greater Than You Think
Some types of workplace dust are more harmful than others. Hazardous dusts which are common in some industries include:
- Asbestos – asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers each year (more than the number of people killed on the road)
- Flour – flour dust and enzymes containing additives such as amylase are the second most common cause of occupational asthma.
- Grain – grain dust (from barley, oats, wheat etc.) also contains contaminants, such as bacteria, fungal spores, insect debris and pesticide residue!
- Silica – silica dust is released when stone, bricks or concrete, are cut or broken. In June 2019, the Health & Safety Executive HSE announced it would increase its testing of dust levels at construction sites.
- Wood – carpenters and joiners are four times more likely to get asthma compared with other UK workers because of wood dust.
3. Not All Dusts Have a Workplace Exposure Limit
Some dusts have COSHH Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs). WELs provide a guide for employers for controlling exposure. So, for example, silica dust, which is particularly harmful to health, has a WEL of 0.1mg/m. Other dusts may not have a WEL but might still be hazardous. According to the HSE,
“A dust is considered to be a substance hazardous to health under COSHH if it is present at a concentration in air equal or greater than 10mg/m3 (for inhalable dust) or 4mg/m3 (for respirable dust) as a substance hazardous to health.”
At this concentration or below, it is widely believed that any exposure to dust is to be kept as low as possible.
4. Some Dusts are Combustible
Certain dusts are combustible under certain conditions, as highlighted by the HSE. Wood and flour dusts are both combustible, as well as the dust from powdered ingredients, such as sugar custard powder, instant coffee and dried milk. Read more about combustible dust here.
5. You Can Be Fined If You Fail to Have Your Dust Extraction System Tested
Most employers are aware that they need to have the correct control measures in place to protect their workers from the hazards of dust – and there are various measures to suit different working processes. But if you use dust extraction systems (LEV) and don’t get them tested as per the requirements of the law, then you could be fined.
The law states that you must maintain your local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system so that it continues to provide the necessary protection. A thorough examination and test should be conducted at least every 14 months. Furthermore, you must keep a record of the test for at least 5 years. Information should also always be displayed on the LEV system to verify that it provides adequate protection.
For more information about HVDS dust extraction solutions, click here. To enquire about a dust extraction survey for your facility, please click here. To enquire about a thorough examination and test of your LEV system, contact us here or call us on 01785 256976.
Two members of our dust extraction department, Stephen Jackson and Christian Taylor, have passed their P602 theory exam. Now they just need to complete two case studies and they will be P602 qualified.
What is the P602?
The P602 is a British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) local exhaust ventilation (LEV) training course in LEV Basic Design Principles. The course equips delegates with the theoretical and practical knowledge to design LEV systems. Most importantly, on completion of the course, delegates are able to commission, examine and test LEV systems. In addition, they are able to prepare suitable LEV records (manuals, log books etc.)
Both Steve and Chris already have the P601 qualification (Thorough Examination & Testing of LEV Plant) under their belts. The P601 is a prerequisite for the P602. Another prerequisite of the course is to have a good understanding of the HSE’s Guide HSG258.
What the P602 equips you to do
On completion of the P602 training course, among other things, delegates should be able to:
- Design a basic LEV system
- Calculating an appropriate benchmark for selecting the correct hood
- Design partial enclosures, receptor hoods etc.
- Perform commissioning tests
- Prepare the necessary records of the basis of the design
- Specify an appropriate fan
- Calculate system pressure loss
Who is the P602 suitable for?
The qualification is suitable for engineers, health and safety professionals, technical staff etc. In fact, the course is for anyone who has day-to-day involvement with the specification, design, testing, occupational hygiene and contract management of LEV plant.
Other BOHS LEV courses
The P602 is part of a wider programme of BOHS qualifications (P601, P603, P604, and W201). Firstly, these qualifications serve to help engineers gain professional recognition through BOHS. Secondly, the P602 LEV Design qualification also meets the membership criteria for the Institute of LEV Engineers (ILEVE) and the Society of Operations Engineers (SOE).
Well done to Steve and Chris for passing their P602 theory exam. We now wish them well as they start on their case studies.
Heating and cooling coils are a key component of air handling units (AHUs). They heat or cool the airstream to regulate air temperature and humidity in your manufacturing environment. Since coils are in the air flow path of your ventilation system, they can get blocked with dirt, pollen, dust etc. Coils blocked with debris can cause a whole range of issues, which we examine in this article.
Reduced Energy Efficiency
Blocked coils can negatively affect energy usage. Furthermore, debris in the coil means they work less efficiently. The amount of air passing through them decreases and this leads to an increased pressure drop across them. At this point, more power from the fan is required to push air through. This results in higher energy costs and poor system performance. Keeping coils clean is, therefore, very important.
Shorter System Life Cycle
Poor performance of coils means that other parts of the system, such as the fan, have to work harder. This can mean, a reduced life cycle of equipment. In addition, biological growth on coils can lead to corrosion. In fact, the aluminium in AHU coils that have been left unchecked over time can break down to a fine powder residue. This could subsequently get through the HVAC system and into food.
Poor Indoor Air Quality
Microbiological contaminants such as mould, bacteria and funghi can grow in cooling coils. Apart from reducing the effectiveness of temperature control and energy efficiency, it can compromise indoor air quality. Furthermore, food safety in individual food production areas is at risk. Moreover, it can form something collectively known as Macromolecular Organic Dust. This can result in sick building syndrome, linked with various health complaints.
The Solution: Regular Cleaning
The BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8 Section 6 guidelines state that you should clean your AHU every 6 months. This will minimise contamination, hygiene issues and associated breakdown time. We advise our customers to put a regular cleaning schedule in place. This will keep their AHUs clean and maintain good indoor air quality. HVDS engineers are Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) trained. They use a variety of cleaning techniques, including jet washing, steam cleaning and coil combing.
Chocolate is one of the most popular flavours the world over. Manufacturing chocolate or with chocolate as an ingredient presents its own challenges from an indoor air point of view. In this article, we take a look at a couple of those challenges and how HVAC systems can correct the manufacturing environment to create the optimum conditions for working with chocolate.
It is essential to maintain the correct relative humidity when manufacturing with chocolate. Chocolate absorbs moisture easily and this can lead to a multitude of issues, including the chocolate becoming too sticky, losing its shape or texture, acquiring unsightly spots on its surface etc. Furthermore, once spoiled by moisture, it is impossible to restore chocolate to its original condition.
Applying a chocolate coating by dipping by hand or mechanically enrobing, for example, requires the right humidity for the chocolate to set with a uniform distribution. 50% relative humidity is recommended for this particular process.
Controlling the humidity in other areas of the manufacturing facility, such as in the packaging room, is equally as important. If chocolate absorbs moisture, it can develop ‘sugar bloom’ – a patchy white discoloration on the surface of the chocolate.
The cooling coil in the air handling system (AHU) removes the humidity from the air. Condensed water from the air drains away and the dryer air then heats to the correct operating temperature.
For chocolate or chocolate coated products, temperature is very important. Even the slightest deviation in temperature can cause problems.
The melting point for chocolate is around 34°C, just below human body temperature. Temperatures higher than this could cause the chocolate to lose its shape, texture or taste.
Low temperatures, on the other hand, can cause condensation and surface spots to form on the product if transferred to a warmer place prior to packaging. It is therefore vital to maintain the correct temperatures throughout the production facility. Temperatures must also be consistent inside a particular production area – with no hot spots.
Optimal temperatures depend on the process, but for dipping or enrobing, a temperature of 24 – 27°C is recommended, and for storing chocolate, the temperature should be 16-18 °C.
The cooling and heating coils in the AHU are responsible for cooling or heating the air to maintain the right temperature. If the air is below the ‘set point’ temperature, the heating coil will increase the air temperature, and if above, the cooling coil will decrease it to bring it to the ‘set point’. For more information, click here.
Manufacturing in the right conditions will also help to maximise shelf-life.
There are a lot of dust challenges with chocolate. Cocoa, sugar and dried milk are all Atex rated products, which means they are potentially explosive under certain conditions. AHUs installed in areas with potentially explosive atmospheres have to comply with ATEX directive 2014/34/EU. It is also essential to keep all system explosion relief valves, explosion panels etc. maintained and checked.
Powdered ingredients can also be harmful to human health, as they can cause lung and skin irritations, which can lead to long-term health conditions. Manufacturers are obliged to comply with COSHH regulations to keep indoor air clean and safe for employees. Removing traces of the product from the air is therefore essential. There are a variety of dust control solutions. Local exhaust ventilation is one of the best ways to ensure clean air in your facility.
Find out more about how to prevent food factory powder explosions here.
Our air handling and dust extraction experts are here to help. If you have any questions, please get in touch on 01785 256976 or contact us here.
Choosing the right air filters for your air handling unit (AHU) will help keep your operation cost-effective, ensure food safety, keep the air your workers breathe clean and contaminant-free, save you money and prolong the lifespan of your HVAC system. We guide you through the most important considerations when choosing air filters.
Designed for Efficiency and Durability
Primary filters usually have a pleated panel design. A wire mesh holds the pleated fibre media in place. The pleats allow these filters to catch more dust (down to 4 or 5 microns). Consequently, these filters have a longer lifespan. This design also helps prevent dust sticking to the cooling coil, fan and motor in the AHU and also to the inside of the ductwork. Dust build-up on these elements can present a fire hazard and can reduce energy efficiency. Having a good primary filter will help protect the other more expensive filters in your AHU, such as the secondary filters.
Secondary filters are typically bag filters made of synthetic material. The bag extends backwards as it inflates, giving it a large surface area to catch pollen, bacteria and smaller particles of dust. Look for synthetic media in these bag filters rather than glass fibre media. Glass fibre media can shed from this type of filter and potentially get into food. Synthetic filter media, on the other hand, is shatter-proof, environmentally harmless and performs equally as well as glass fibre media.
HEPA filters at the final stage of filtration are for those applications that need a higher level of contamination control. They comprise a galvanized steel frame with side handles for ease of handling. The media is water-repellant matted micro-fibre. The fibre media is capable of trapping very small particulate contaminants from an air stream. Read more about HEPA filters here.
There is label on every filter. The label should give details of supplier for reordering purposes, an arrow indicating direction of the airflow and dimensions of the filter.
Suitability for the Application
To maintain good indoor air quality at all times, you have to choose the right filter for your specific application. Each type of production area (low care, high care, high risk) has a different set of requirements. The level of filtration for a high risk area is much greater than for a low care area.
The table below shows which filter application grades are suitable for each type of production area at pre-filter, secondary and final filter stage.
BS EN 779:2012
Up until 30th June 2018, BS EN 779:2012 set out the standards that air filters had to meet, including the test methods and the test bench used to measure the performance of a filter. ISO 16890 then replaced BS EN 779:2012. The new testing standard represents real-life performance of a filter much more accurately.
While EN 779 was based on a particle size of 0.4 µm, filter efficiency is now measured using three different particle fractions of PM10 (particles up to 10 µm), PM2.5 (particles up to 2.5 µm) and PM1 (particles up to 1 µm). ISO 16890 reports filter efficiency as a percentage (from 50% – 95% in 5% increments) for each of the ePM ranges.
The new measuring procedure introduced by ISO 16890 makes it possible to select the best filter for a specific local particulate matter concentration in the air.
Eurovent Energy Rating
Eurovent introduced a new classification for air filter energy efficiency on 1st January 2019. The Eurovent Energy Rating 2019 is based on ISO 16890:2016. The grading of air filters goes from A+ (lowest energy consumption) to E (highest energy consumption). The new classification has increased the efficiency performance demands on filter manufacturers. For example, filters previously considered to have an efficiency rating of A+, have been downgraded to A.
As filters pick up dirt, they create a lot of pressure resistance. Pressure is measured in pascals by a magnehelic gauge, and you can tell from the pressure reading when the bag needs to be replaced. (Speak to your air filter supplier to find out what the pressure difference should be across the filters in your AHU.) Filters vary by energy efficiency. Higher efficiency rated filters create a lower pressure drop that means there is less pressure to overcome for the fans. You can save a lot of energy by switching to a more energy efficient filter.
A Good Supplier of AHU Air Filters
A good AHU air filter supplier will offer more than just the product. They will also provide an installation and filter change service. In addition, not only will they advise on what the pressure difference should be across the air filters in your AHU, but they will also put in place a regular filter change schedule for you. This helps relieve the burden on in-house engineers of checking differential pressure at intervals. It is easy to overlook dirty and worn filters when relying on checking pressure drop. Having a schedule means that filters are changed in good time without have to check pressure. This preventative approach also means that bacteria does not get chance to build up.
A good supplier will also add value to their service by looking at your air handling system holistically. They will provide additional hygiene and remedial services to keep your AHU clean, contamination free and well-maintained. This will help to ensure it works as energy efficiently as possible. It will also prevent your AHU contributing to the contamination of your product and the air your employees breathe.
HVDS provides a holistic air filtration service from AHU installation to filter changes and from system cleaning to remedials. For more information get in touch with our air filtration experts today.
This article is a summary of our whitepaper of 8th June 2020 on HVAC pandemic considerations for food production sites with regard to indoor air quality (IAQ) both during and post the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance is of relevance to anyone with responsibility for food safety and the health and safety of employees and has been collated from a variety of sources.
Uncertainties still remain about how the coronavirus is transmitted, however, experts are recommending certain HVAC engineering controls to help prevent airborne transmission. These recommendations should be used in conjunction with other measures, such as social distancing, PPE and hand hygiene etc.
Avoid Recirculating Air
Experts agree that ventilation systems that normally run with a recirculation mode should now be configured to run on full outside air where possible. According to the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers CIBSE), you should avoid recirculating air, ‘‘unless this is the only way of providing adequately high ventilation to all occupied rooms’.
Review Ventilation Strategy
CIBSE also states the importance of conducting a review of your ventilation strategy. According to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), you should take into account any measures you might have put in place in response to the pandemic, that might be restricting the air flow, e.g. partitions for social distancing of employees. The HVDS risk assessment template is available to help you conduct a comprehensive survey. Contact us for more details.
Increase Ventilation Operating Times
The Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) recommends increasing the air supply and exhaust ventilation operation times of mechanical ventilation systems. As HVAC systems are tailored to the specific requirements of individual sites, the ventilation rate need to be considered in conjunction with relative humidity, temperature control, air flow direction and air flow distribution. For this reason, systems should be adjusted by HVAC engineers, as advised by a ScienceDirect paper, How can airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors be minimised? published online by Elsevier Ltd. on 27th May 2020.
Implement a More Frequent and Rigorous Cleaning Regime
HVAC experts are predicting the increased significance of ventilation hygiene going forwards. According to the BESA, ‘It is more important than ever if systems are operating on full fresh air that ductwork is properly clean’. It is also important to note that a facility that has moved to a higher risk category because of changes as a result of the pandemic, will require more frequent ventilation cleaning. Cleaning should be carried out in accordance with the BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8.
Increase Frequency of Air Filter Changes
In addition to increased cleaning, the BESA also advocates more regular filter changes to stop microbial growth on filters. At HVDS, we recommend the more preventative course of action of changing filters to a set schedule rather than to pressure drop readings.
Consider using a Finer Grade of Filtration
For buildings that require a higher level of contamination control, HEPA filters are able to catch 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns in diameter or larger. Not all air handling unit fans, however, are have the capacity to create the additional airflow necessary to push air through HEPA filters. However, secondary filters can be increased to F9/ISO 16890 ePM1 80%.
Check Rotary Heat Exchangers for Leakage
HVAC systems with heat exchangers may carry virus-laden particles via leaks from the exhaust air side to the supply air side, which can re-enter the building under certain conditions, according the REHVA. CIBSE recommends bypassing the thermal wheel – or where this isn’t possible, turning off the rotor and increasing the ventilation rates. Leakage is not an issue if an HVAC system is equipped with a device that guarantees 100% air separation between the return and the supply side.
Test and Maintain Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) Equipment as Normal
The HSE have stated that it is essential to continue to carry out regular inspection and testing of LEV equipment throughout the pandemic as normal. To comply with the law, a thorough examination and test (TExT) of LEV equipment must be undertaken every 14 months to protect employees from hazardous substances, such as dust, fume, mist, spray and oil in the workplace. In its ‘return to work guidance’, the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) stresses that the ‘HSE is not issuing exemptions or relaxation of these requirements’. According to the HSE, if your LEV system is restarting after a period of inactivity, it must be examined and tested prior to use.
For more information on HVAC pandemic considerations, see our whitepaper of 8th June 2020. The information contained both in this article and in the white paper may be subject to change as the situation with regard to HVAC and the pandemic is in constant review. As ever, we aim to bring you the latest thinking to help you keep your on-site indoor air clean. See also our Coronavirus Resource Hub to keep you safe and up-to-date. The hub includes all the latest food industry news, which is updated daily.
The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) TR19 regulations set out best practice for cleaning ventilation ductwork and kitchen extract flues. In fact, TR19 was developed in 1988, in order to “provide a safe working environment for staff; reduce fire risks; and avoid contamination of food preparation areas”. Since then, it has become the standard to adhere to when performing ductwork cleaning operations. Furthermore, TR19 guidelines lay out best practice with regard to access to ductwork, inspection of ductwork, cleaning processes and post-cleaning checks.
The guidelines state that the system must contain enough access panels of sufficient size to enable regular inspection and cleaning.
The panels should be made of the same material as the ductwork and should include insulation, seals (to prevent leaks) and quick-release catches.
In addition, the recommendation is that panels are located at the top or along the side of the ductwork. Panels on the underside must contain proper seals to ensure they don’t leak.
Engineers must inspect ductwork at regular intervals to establish whether it needs cleaning. The Wet Film Thickness Test (WFTT) assesses the level of build-up of grease and soft deposits. What’s more, the Deposit Thickness Test (DTT) will gauge the extent of build-up of carbonised deposits. Kitchens must ensure inspections at least every 12 months. More frequent inspections will give a more accurate assessment of the required cleaning frequency.
TR19 details the locations in the ductwork for measurement of deposits. In particular, one state-of-the-art inspection method is by means of a camera probe. This allows engineers to see deep into the ductwork to confirm both the extent of the build-up and the type of cleaning process required.
TR19 outlines a number of cleaning methods, including hand scraping, chemicals, high pressure water wash, steam cleaning, rotary brush etc. However, not all methods are appropriate for every type of ductwork and location.
The TR19 guidelines state the recommended intervals between cleans. But the cleaning intervals for kitchen extract flues depend on the cooking methods and the volume of airborne grease contaminants.
As grease in kitchen extraction systems is a well-known fire hazard, a new specification (TR19 Grease) was published in July 2019. TR19 Grease increases the level of compliance with regard to fire safety cleaning.
Although regular inspections establish cleaning frequency, the minimum cleaning frequency recommendation is as follows:
Post Cleaning Verification
Engineers should carry out a visual inspection of ductwork and flues after cleaning. Deposits must not exceed .05 mm in thickness. Engineers should then provide a Post Cleaning Verification Report. This report details the systems post cleaning and includes photographic records, COSHH data on any chemicals used, observations on the condition of the ductwork etc.
HVDS engineers clean metal and fabric ducting and kitchen extraction flues to TR19 standards. They also hold BESA Air Hygiene Operative (AHO) accreditation. The course assesses their competency in working safely, the principles of ventilation ductwork, preparing the work location, cleaning ductwork systems, working sustainably and communication and behaviour in the workplace.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) the Institute of Local Exhaust Ventilation Engineers (ILEVE) “formed to promote the Science, Understanding, Education, Art and Practice of Local Exhaust Ventilation Engineering”.
ILEVE raises awareness of the importance of clean air and ventilation in the workplace. The organisation aims to reduce ill health due to airborne contamination. It also focuses on competence in the practical application of local exhaust ventilation (LEV). Removing hazardous substances from the air is key to reducing lung disease associated with the workplace. Furthermore, removing these substances can reduce the risk of contaminants coming into contact with the skin. This can consequently help reduce incidences of skin disease in the workplace,
“ILEVE has been established to promote air quality in the workplace and to reduce ill health and death due to airborne contamination and hazardous substances in the working environment.”Institute of Local Exhaust Ventilation Engineers
All individuals involved in LEV activities (such as sales, design, installation, commissioning & testing) should become members. And membership competency cards display their accredited fields of expertise.
“Membership grades are awarded based on LEV industry experience plus the points accredited in the grading process.”Institute of Local Exhaust Ventilation Engineers
The organisation is affiliated to the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE). It works to provide its members with information and best practice guidelines. In addition, it provides a career path for LEV engineers. One of its aims is to provide a higher profile and support for LEV engineers and acts as a voice for the profession.
ILEVE developed the P604 training module in partnership with BOHS. The course supplements the BOHS P601 and P602. Furthermore, it provides advanced practical and theoretical knowledge of LEV. This, in turn, proves competence for TExT (Thorough Examination and Test) and system design.
For help with LEV on your site, contact our ILEVE accredited engineers here or contact HVDS on 01785 256976.
Many modern food production environments need to cool their indoor air for two main reasons:
- For the comfort of employees
- To protect food safety
Not all cooling systems are the same. In this article, we look at evaporative coolers and why they provide the best solution for food manufacturers. We also introduce the HVDS COLD AIR F-Series and explain how it goes one step further in improving the quality of your air.
The Benefits of Reducing Temperature & Humidity
Heat and humidity can be an issue on site all year round but particularly during the summer months. Heat is well-known to affect productivity, health and safety and health. It can also result in reduced quality products and shorter shelf-life. The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) recommends a temperature of 13℃ in factories for heavy work and 16℃ for light work.
Refrigeration-based Aircon versus Evaporative Coolers
Certain cooling methods, such as refrigeration-based air conditioning and mechanical ventilation have high capital and running costs. Evaporative coolers have low energy consumption rates, making them far more economical and efficient than other cooling methods. They also deliver important environmental benefits compared with air conditioners, which use refrigerant gases and release CO2 into the atmosphere, which can also contribute to global warming.
How Evaporative Coolers Work
Evaporative coolers work by passing air through wet filters. The air loses its heat due to the evaporation of the water. They also feature temperature and humidity controls, which optimise the environment. Evaporative cooling will also remove air from the product (deaeration) and this will delay bacteria growth, thus improving the quality and lengthening the shelf-life.
HVDS COLD AIR F-Series
The HVDS COLD AIR F-Series evaporative coolers go a step further still. As part of our research and development into new energy efficient clean air solutions, the COLD AIR F-Series now makes it possible to cool production areas, while ensuring quality of air. This is made possible due to the inclusion of an integrated air filtration system, available in G4 – F9 filtration class. COLD AIR F-Series adiabatic evaporative cooling ensures:
- environmental comfort
- energy efficiency
- quality of air
Industries that Would Benefit from COLD AIR F-Series
COLD AIR F-Series is suitable for:
- food industry
- pharmaceutical industry
- bottling plants
- warehousing etc.
With the first measures towards easing lockdown announced yesterday by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, manufacturers across the UK are looking at ways to get more of their employees back to work safely. Among issues of social distancing, PPE and hand hygiene, employers and site managers will need to take into account the humidity level in the building.
Dry Air & Infection Rates
The World Health Organisation has confirmed that COVID-19 is able to survive under certain indoor air conditions. Research has shown that dry indoor air is associated with higher infection rates among building occupants. This is because viruses and bacteria can survive in aerosols transmitted in dry air. Furthermore, the drier the air, the more infectious the droplets. This is because in lower humidity, our respiratory immune system is less able to fight off infection. Data shows, however, that virus and bacteria droplets are less infectious in the mid-range relative humidity of 40 – 60%.
The Role of AHUs & Transmission
We also know that viruses, such as COVID-19, can travel through the air into an air handling unit (AHU). This happens, in particular, when air in a building or production area is dry. So even though sites are observing all the correct procedures with regard to social distancing, hand washing etc., employees can still be at risk of infection. This is the case even if they haven’t been in close contact with an infected person in the same building. These findings highlight the importance of properly humidifying and ventilating manufacturing sites. Other affected buildings are, of course, hospitals, schools, offices, public buildings etc.
In many countries, including the UK, there is little regulation on minimum indoor humidity levels. With the focus very much on other measures to prevent infection, maintaining 40 – 60% humidity levels have been somewhat overlooked. Adjusting the level of humidity in buildings will help prevent the spread of infection. This will help prevent another spike in coronavirus cases and save lives.
For more information on how an air handling unit controls humidity, read our post about How Air Handling Units Work. See our top tips on maintaining good indoor air quality during the pandemic here. For help and advice on indoor air quality and your air handling unit, please get in touch here or contact us on 01785 256976 or at email@example.com
Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems remove hazardous dust, gas and fumes from the air to keep the air workers breathe safe. Consequently, the regular testing of systems will ensure they are functioning correctly. In this article, we look at the legal obligations of an employer with regard to LEV testing.
The symptoms of respiratory disease tend to take a long time to appear after exposure. For this reason, the consequences of exposure are not appreciated. Furthermore, when symptoms appear, they are irreversible.
Respiratory diseases caused by exposure to hazardous substances in the air include: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), occupational asthma, silicosis, cancer, pneumonia and mesothelioma. In brief, putting the right controls in place and maintaining those controls adequately makes respiratory disease preventable.
Certain processes in the workplace generate dust, fumes, gas, mist, oil or spray, which can be harmful to health. Therefore the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations say that employers must take measures to minimize workers’ exposure to these substances. COSHH Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) outline what these limits are.
Exposure means uptake into the body. Employers can take appropriate measures to minimize this uptake, such as using lidded containers, vacuuming and wet cleaning surfaces rather than brushing, providing personal respirators etc. However, for very dusty processes you will need to install a LEV system. A LEV system will remove dust particles from the atmosphere and maintain health and safety compliance. Moreover, in certain areas, mobile dust extraction units might be necessary.
HSG258 outlines the principles and good practice of choosing, designing, commissioning and testing LEVs. First and foremost, it is targetted at suppliers of LEV goods and services. It is also helpful for employers and managers. Download the latest copy of the HSG258 here.
There are 3 types of assessment listed in HSG258. These are:
This is a Thorough Examination and Test (TExT) of a system, for when a system is first installed or when there have been any alterations to the system.
This is a Thorough Examination and Test (TExT) of a system and is a mandatory statutory assessment at the frequency outlined in the next section.
These are weekly visual assessments to ensure that the LEV System is in good condition.
Testing During the Pandemic
LEV testing remains a statutory requirement and the COSHH Regulations 2002 still apply during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your business remains open and your process and machinery are running, you must still manage the risk to protect your employees.
If your process and machinery are not currently operating, according to HSE guidelines, an LEV system should be subject to a thorough examination and test prior to restarting.
According to the HSE, an employer ‘must maintain LEV system performance’. In addition, COSHH ‘Regulation 9 – Maintenance’, states that a thorough examination and test must be conducted at least every 14 months. However, it is possible to establish exact frequency of testing according to the outcome of the risk assessment, as detailed in ‘Regulation 6 – Risk Assessment’.
Maintenance regimes can be evaluated by observing evidence of poor repair such as holes in ducting or blocked and dirty extraction systems.
A record of testing must be kept for at least 5 years. What’s more, the employer, supervisor and operator must all be aware of when the last examination was conducted and when the next one is due. For this reason, all information about testing and examination should be kept on the installed LEV system for the life of the system.
LEV Test Qualification
LEV systems must be regularly tested by a qualified person. The minimum qualification needed to test LEV equipment is the P601 – Thorough Examination & Testing of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) Systems.
P601 is a British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) approved course, which is recognised by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as well as the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) and the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS).
At HVDS, we design, commission and test LEV systems. Contact us here for more information or get in touch on 01785 256976. Or for a FREE dust extraction survey, click here and fill out our online form. We’re happy to help!
In this article we look at how a typical and simple air handling unit works, including each of its component parts.
Where AHUs are Located
Air handling units (AHUs) can be found in the roof void, basement or floors of a building and will serve a specified area of that building. One building will therefore often have multiple AHUs.
The Purpose of an AHU
The purpose of an AHU is to clean, condition and distribute air around a building to help maintain good indoor air quality. This is important for any area or room that relies on having a continuous contaminant-free air supply.
How AHUs Filter Air
AHUs take air from outside the building and will filter the contaminants from it, heat it or cool it as required. AHUs then send the filtered air through the ductwork to distribute it to designated areas within the building. Most AHUs have an additional duct, which takes the used air (return air) out of the rooms and back to the AHU and to a fan that discharges it into the atmosphere. Some of the return air might be recirculated, which helps save energy.
A grill at the air inlet of the AHU prevents debris being pulled into the AHU. Dampers at the inlet regulate the amount of air entering or exiting the AHU. In a closed position they will prevent air entering the system and fully open they will allow air in and out.
Beyond the dampers are three sets of filters: pre-filters or panel filters that catch large dust particles, pollen and fungal spores, secondary filters or bag filters that catch smaller dust particles and microorganisms such as yeast, and finally a finer grade of filtration, such as HEPA filters, which are capable of catching microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.
The grade of filters required depends on the application the AHU is serving (food production areas, clean rooms, such as in pharmaceutical and research facilities, hospitals etc.) Removing contaminants from the indoor atmosphere helps protect both processes and people. Pressure sensors measure how dirty the filters are. As filters collect dirt, the airflow through the filter media becomes restricted and this will cause a pressure drop as shown on the pressure sensors.
Regulating Temperature & Humidity
Heating and Cooling
Next, heating and cooling coils heat or cool the air, as necessary. The ‘set point temperature’ of the supply air is measured as it leaves the AHU and continues its journey into the ductwork. If the air is below the set point temperature, the heating coil will increase the air temperature, and if above, the cooling coil will decrease it to bring it to the set point.
For those buildings that need to control humidity, there will be a humidifier after the heating/cooling coils. A humidity sensor at the outlet of the AHU measures the amount of moisture (set point humidity) in the air. Where the air does not contain enough moisture, the humidifier will release steam or spray water mist into the airflow. Similarly, where the air contains too much moisture, the cooling coil will cause the moisture to condense and flow away and/or will reduce the air temperature. Where the air temperature dips below the supply set point, the heating coil can be switched on to raise the temperature again.
After the humidifier comes a fan. The fan pulls air in from outside and through the dampers, air filters and heating/cooling coils and into the ductwork. A pressure sensor across the fan will detect whether the fan is operating or whether there has been an equipment failure.
Next is the ductwork, which takes the air round the area the AHU serves. Some of the ducting brings the used air back from the specified area and into the return AHU.
A fan pulls the air from around the building in and then pushes it to outside the building. The return AHU also contains a damper, which stands at the exit of the AHU. This closes when the AHU switches off.
The Difference Between HVAC and AHU Systems
An AHU forms just part of the wider HVAC system. According to Mecart, a Canadian cleanroom manufacturer,
“There tends to be confusion between HVAC systems and AHUs. The air handler is the enclosure in which the air is heated, filtered and cooled. The HVAC system is the whole set up, which includes the AHU as well as the duct work, diffuser, HEPA filters, air return, and control and monitoring systems.”
HVDS provides and installs AHUs to the food industry. To discuss an AHU for your food production area, contact us on 01785 256 976 or get in touch here.
Maintaining good indoor air quality on site is essential. It optimizes contamination control and ensures audit compliance. Furthermore, it improves the shelf life of your products and contributes to a safe working environment for your employees.
Without proper controls in place, air can be a source of contamination. It can act as a transport medium, moving contaminants from one area to another. These contaminants can include fungal spores, coarse dust and pollen (PM10 – where the concentration of particles that are less than or equal to 10 µm in diameter), fine dust and microorganisms like yeast (PM2.5) and microorganisms like viruses and bacteria (PM1).
Filtration & Good Indoor Air Quality
Filter Stages and Grades
There are typically three filter stages needed to adequately filter our contaminants in food production areas. However, there is no one size fits all. Consequently, only a thorough risk analysis of the individual area can determine the correct specification for each filter stage.
Find out more about air filter classifications here.
High risk or cleanroom production areas will need to meet the highest standards of food safety. Therefore, filters for these areas should be capable of filtering out the smallest microbes, will need to be suitable for operation up to 100% relative humidity and be resistant to mechanical stress. In addition, filters should meet the ISO16890 standards and higher pre-filtration grades should be installed. Air management should also take into account optimum room pressurisation and number of air changes. Furthermore, for good indoor air quality, air movement, temperature and humidity should be monitored carefully.
In addition to choosing the correct filter grades, your filters should be changed regularly and to a set schedule and your air handling system should be cleaned on a similar basis. Cleaning should include the sides, wall and floor of the air handling unit (AHU), metal/fabric ducting, fan, cooling coil, heater battery, motor etc. These are all components which can harbour contaminants.
The HVDS Risk Assessment
HVDS provides a risk assessment template, which helps you evaluate your air handling requirements for good Indoor Air Quality on site. Devised by our Indoor Air Quality experts, the template is a checklist to help you prioritise your actions to achieve BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8 audit compliance. Find out more here.
For information and advice on any of the above, please get in touch on 01785 256976 or contact us here.
Hygiene and Facilities Managers have long understood the benefits of keeping their air handling units and ductwork clean. However, the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) says that air cleaning and associated hygiene regimes should become standard practice after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airborne Virus Transmission
The World Health Organization (WHO) tells us that smaller particles (less than 5 micrometers (µm)) will remain in the air for many minutes or even hours. In a BESA webinar last week, speaker Richard Greenwood of Radic8, said that the ventilation industry has “a crucial role to play both during and after the pandemic”. He explained that 40,000 virus-laden droplets emit from a single sneeze. Furthermore, these can travel more than 8 metres and can remain airborne for up to 3 hours.
During the BESA webinar, Mr Greenwood also said that there are 4 known transmission routes for COVID-19. These are direct contact, indirect contact, droplets and airborne. He stressed that preventing transmission at airborne level will stop build-up on surfaces. This will, in turn, reduce contact transmission.
Regular Cleaning Tackles Airborne Contaminants
Experts agree it is essential to implement measures to tackle airborne contaminants. Filtration plays an important role in tackling airborne contaminants. However, this should be supplemented with frequent and regular cleaning. According to Mr Greenwood,
“We now have evidence that microbial contaminants will grow on filters in 14 days and these either need to be tackled by more regular filter changes or by increased cleaning.”
David Frise, BESA chief executive, said the evidence presented by Mr Greenwood demonstrated the significant role the ventilation hygiene industry would play from now on in making buildings safe. Read the full article on the BESA website here.
HVDS offers a comprehensive hygiene service for your HVAC and LEV systems. Our customers benefit from regular and scheduled filter changes and cleaning and remedial work. For more information, get in touch on 01785 256976 or contact us here.
The coronavirus pandemic has put the food and drink industry to the test as it has risen to the challenge of feeding the nation. When the storm has passed, it is possible that new trends will become the norm. We take a look at the future of the food industry, including what post-crisis consumers might look like and other considerations for UK food manufacturers.
The impending recession will mean that people are more careful how they spend their money. Not surprisingly, most will prioritise basic food and drink in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19. As a result, the tendency will be to shop around to get the best price, meaning that brand loyalty will decline.
The Older Demographic
With higher levels of disposable income than other demographic sectors, the over-60s contribute a significant amount to the UK economy. It is predicted, however, that they will rein in their spending habits in the wake of the pandemic. Consequently, luxury or indulgent foods will be replaced with more basic and functional foods.
People in the Generation X sector (born early 1960s to late 1970s) will be more concerned about their long-term health. Health-boosting foods and supplements will become more important for this age-range, seeking to find illness and disease-prevention solutions.
Eating healthily has become increasingly important to consumers in the last few years. This trend is set to become even more significant, due to people cooking all their meals at home during lockdown. Foods containing vitamins and minerals to boost the immune systems will become even more popular and play their part in shaping the future of the food industry.
Similarly, the use of food delivery apps and food delivery services during lockdown will remain high once the pandemic is over. Businesses who have honed their apps and restructured their websites to put delivery options first will benefit. MD of KAM Media, Katy Moses, notes that “consumers aren’t going to suddenly delete apps and forget about delivery options when the lockdowns end”. (Read more here.)
According to Will Cowling, marketing manager for FMCG Gurus, “Consumers were already concerned about levels of damage done to the environment before this pandemic, but this crisis is going to make those concerns all the more relevant”. (Read more here.) Having realised during lockdown that some environmental damage is indeed reversible and that air quality is an important consideration for us all, consumers will be looking more closely at sustainability and good environmental practices. As Unilever‘s Chief Executive, Alan Jope, predicts, the COVID-19 pandemic will “herald a new era of responsible consumption”.
There has been an increased focus on food safety throughout the coronavirus crisis. Undoubtedly, this will continue to be relevant for both consumers and the industry in general. The future of the food industry for food manufacturers could see more stringent guidelines put in place by audit bodies like the BRCGS. Indoor air quality will be more under scrutiny than ever before. Guidelines will look to prevent the spread of infection and stop bacteria, dust and other airborne debris compromising food safety in production areas. There are specific measures food manufacturers can take, in particular, to increase the efficiency of their particle filtration. These are:
- Using a finer grade of filtration (if possible, HEPA filter grade)
- Increasing your frequency of air filter change
- Cleaning and checking your HVAC system regularly
If you have any questions about how to increase the Indoor Air Quality in your food production facility, give us a call on 01785 256976 or get in touch here. Happy to help.
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) is continuing to assess ongoing research on the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), we are recommending the use of HEPA filters in air handling units. This will help ensure the best level of protection for all. HEPA filters provide a final stage of air filtration in air handling units in buildings requiring a higher level of contamination control. These include hospitals, research laboratories, pharmaceutical manufacturing plants and certain food production facilities. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters offer further protection from microbial contamination.
How HEPA Filters Trap Particulates
HEPA filter media comprises countless randomly-arranged matted fibres. Their design allows them to trap very small particulate contaminants from an air stream by:
A contaminant particle passes within a distance equal to one particle’s radius of a fibre. This results in the particle touching the fibre and being removed from the airflow. Particles further than one particle’s radius from a fibre will not be trapped.
Due to inertia, large particles (usually 5–10 µm in size), are unable to adjust to the change in direction of air near a filter fibre. The fibres consequently trap the particles.
Small particles (usually 0.1 µm or less in size) travel in an erratic fashion as they interact with gas molecules (Brownian motion). In brief, their random and erratic motions cause them to become stuck in filter fibres.
HEPA Filter Testing
Be aware that testing of HEPA filters is different way to that of other filters. Consequently, when purchasing this type of filter, you must ensure testing meets the BS EN 1822:2009 standard. Furthermore, each filter must come with a test certificate detailing the tested efficiency. The BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8 recommends that HEPA filters are “integrity-tested after installation and then on a periodic basis as per ISO 14644”.
HVDS HEPA Filters
HVDS are currently increasing their supply of H13 HEPA filters (99.5% MPPS EN1822) due to requirements by the health and medical organisations (including the NHS) and the food manufacturing industry. Although these filters are Hospital HEPA Grade, they can be installed into most AHU systems, replacing existing filters.
See our range of HEPA filters here.
If you are unsure whether your level of filtration meets the required standard in your building and would like a full risk assessment by our air filtration and ventilation specialists, contact us on 01785 256976 or get in touch here.
This last week has seen a continued massive effort from the food industry to replenish stocks of food in supermarkets following panic-buying in the wake of the outbreak of coronavirus in the UK. We bring you the first of our round-ups of the most positive news stories about the food industry from the last week.
For the latest coronavirus-related food industry news, check out our news page, which is updated daily.
Actors, Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis, have launched the #FeedNHS, in an effort to support the National Health Service. The scheme aims to have restaurant meals delivered to NHS staff who are on the coronavirus frontline. Through not-for-profit initiatives like this, the UK food industry is making a generous contribution to feeding and supporting NHS staff with hot meals. #FeedtheNHS aims to deliver 5,600 hot meals per day to start with in 5 major hospitals in London. Read more here (The Telegraph)
Pick For Britain
Over the next few months, certain crops will be ready for picking on British farms and from the end of April, 29,000 crop pickers will be needed. As UK borders are closed, farmers, who usually rely on overseas workers, will be asking local people to step in. The charity, Concordia, which usually helps young people gain experiences abroad, has already recruited 14,000 people to help with the picking as part of its Feed the Nation scheme. These include lettuce and asparagus from mid-April, strawberries from the end of April and apple, pears, cucumbers and cauliflowers later in the year. 70% of these people have never worked on a farm before. Read more here (BBC News)
Some Supermarkets Lift Restrictions
Certain supermarkets are now lifting the restrictions on the number of individual items shoppers can buy. Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Waitrose had put in place these restrictions following stockpiling in early to mid-March. In some cases, the limits are being scrapped altogether and in others, limits are being upped, giving people far more freedom to buy what they need. Read more here (BBC News)
Priority Given to Vulnerable People
Access by supermarkets to government lists of vulnerable people is helping them prioritise online deliveries for those most in need. Other measures supermarkets have been using during the pandemic to help the elderly and vulnerable obtain the food and other household items they need, include dedicated in-store shopping hours. Read more here (The Independent)
Preventing Food Waste
And finally, three food industry federations have launched a joint initiative to prevent food waste. The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF), Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) and Provision Trade Federation (PTF) have created a platform which collates data on perishable and end-of-shelf-life stock. Overstocks and stock under threat can be listed on here by wholesalers and surplus stock will be redistributed. Read more here (FoodBev Media Ltd)
For a round-up of the current food industry news, take a look at our news page, which is updated daily to keep you informed.
The food industry is rising to an enormous and unprecedented challenge and remains resolute in its endeavours to feed the nation.
At HVDS, we are here to support food manufacturers through these tough and testing times. We particularly want you to know that we are here, now as ever, to help with information and support.
If you have any questions or would like any help or advice, please don’t hesitate to call us. Get in touch with one of our air filtration experts on 01785 256976 or contact us here.
Below, we list our 4 top tips for maintaining good Indoor Air Quality at this difficult and testing time.
Our Top Tips
It is important to keep your indoor air clean. Recent studies have shown that for food manufacturers, healthcare facilities, hospitals and other public buildings, the best ways to control infection and prevent cross-contamination are as follows:
- Using a finer grade of filtration (if possible, HEPA filter grade)
- Increasing the frequency of air filter change
- Systematic and periodic checking and cleaning of the air handling system
- Maintaining relative humidity in the range of 40 – 60%
HVDS contract clients have regular service visits and filtration check systems already in place. We are also working to benefit sites further.
Probably the most important of the above tips is the filtration grade. As you can imagine, however, not all fans are capable of creating the extra airflow necessary to push air through HEPA filters. On the other hand, secondary filters can be increased to F9 (High Risk production requirement). This is something we are currently looking at with individual customers on site.
If you have a question about your air handling or LEV system, you may find the answer on our FAQ page.
Subscribe to our ‘Weekly Tips’ email for more information about how to look after your air handling and dust extraction systems.
During these challenging times, it is more important than ever to prioritise our health and wellbeing. Whether we are adjusting to working from home, supporting vulnerable friends or family members, home-schooling (or simply trying to occupy) children, concerned about money…… eating healthily will help see us through.
While food manufacturers are pulling out all the stops to get supermarket shelves restocked with all the products we know and love, we thought we’d take a look at what we should all be eating to stay as well as possible and help us make healthier choices when we buy food! As well as giving tips on healthy eating, we are going to explore making the most of what we have in the cupboards and smart ways to buy food. We hope you find it useful.
The NHS 8 Tips for Healthy Eating
1. Eat more high-fibre starchy carbohydrates
The NHS recommends that starchy carbs should make up just over a third of the food we eat, and include bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and cereals. The more fibre these carbs contain the better, so choose higher fibre or wholegrain varieties e.g. brown rice, wholewheat pasta and potatoes with their skin on. Fibre is important for our digestive health and helps us feel full for longer!
2. Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day
The good thing is, fruit and veg does not have to be fresh to deliver health benefits – tinned, frozen, dried or juiced are just as beneficial. And if we’re not sure what counts towards our 5-a-day, we can use this NHS guide to find out.
In order to cram is a few more fruit and veg than we might be used to, the NHS suggests chopping a banana over breakfast cereal or swapping our mid-morning snack for a piece of fruit.
3. Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish
Fish contains a lot of vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of protein. According to the NHS, we should aim to eat at least two portions of fish per week, including at least one portion of oily fish, which are high in vitamin D and omega-3 fats that may help to prevent heart disease. Some examples of oily fish are pilchards, sardines. Salmon, mackerel, herring and trout.
There are recommended limits for some kinds of fish, which can be found here.
4. Cut down on sugar and saturated fat
Too much saturated fat can increase cholesterol and this increases our risk of heart disease.
Saturated fat is found many foods, for example, in butter, hard cheese, cakes, biscuits, fatty meat and cream.
The NHS states that, on average, men should have no more than 30g of saturated fat per day and women should have no more than 20g per day. Children, 11 years and under, should have less saturated fat than adults, but a low-fat diet is not suitable for children under the age of 5.
Sugary foods and drinks increase our risk of obesity and tooth decay.
It is ok to eat the sugars found in fruit, vegetables and milk, as these haven’t been found to be detrimental to our health. ‘Free sugar’ that is added to a food or drink, or that is already in honey, syrup and fruit juice, has health risks, however.
Free sugars are found in foods such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, sugary fizzy drink, sugary breakfast cereal and puddings.
5. Eat less salt
The NHS recommends that adults and children over the age of 11 should eat no more than 6g (about a teaspoonful) of salt per day. Eating too much salt can raise our blood pressure, which in turn lead to heart disease or stroke. A good way to cut down on salt is not to add it during cooking or to our plated meals.
6. Take exercise and maintain a healthy weight
Taking regular exercise can help reduce our risk of getting serious health conditions. Exercise is also good for our overall physical and mental wellbeing. Being overweight can lead to health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. Being underweight can also negatively affect our health. Use this BMI healthy weight calculator to check whether you are a healthy weight.
7. Stay hydrated
The government recommends drinking 6 – 8 glasses every day, in addition to the fluid in our food. Water, lower fat milk and lower sugar drinks, tea and coffee are healthier choices. Sugary soft and fizzy drinks are high in calories and bad for our teeth. We might think we are making a healthy choice with unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies, but these are actually high in free sugar and we should not consume more than 150ml (a small glass) of these per day.
8. Don’t skip breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast will help us get the nutrients we need to maintain good health. Foods that are high in fibre and low in sugar, salt and fat are the best, such as wholegrain cereal with semi-skimmed milk and sliced fruit.
Healthy Eating & Making the Most of What We Have
Using Up Existing Stocks of Food
Now is also a good time to clear out the freezer and kitchen store cupboards. Here are just some way we can use up what we find.
- Lentils and pulses are a good source of fibre and protein and can be added to all manner of dishes, including chilli con carne and Bolognese
- Oats can be made into a healthy pudding, such as a fruit crumble, using fresh, tinned or frozen fruit.
- Tinned tomatoes can be blended with cooked vegetables to make a healthy sauce for pasta.
- Tinned fish is great in salads or on jacket potatoes. Combine a tin of tuna with a tin of mushroom soup and top with mashed potato for a hearty family meal.
- Dried herbs and spices can be used an alternative to salt to add more flavour to a meal.
- Fruit that is turning can be used in a variety of ways. For example, apples can be grated into salads, very ripe bananas can be used to make banana bread, berries can be used in a crumble and cucumbers, peppers and carrots can be pickled for use in sandwiches and salads.
Making Good Meals With Fewer Ingredients
Since shopping trips are less frequent and we may not be able to find exactly what we want on the supermarket shelves, here are some ideas for meals that require only five ingredients or less. One of the most highly rated is the Crispy Greek-Style Pie. We also like the sound of the Butter Bean and Chorizo Stew.
Buying Food During Self-Isolation and Lockdown
We have all been advised by the government to make shopping trips as infrequent as possible. Here are some work-arounds:
- Shop online. In the delivery instructions you can request that food is dropped off on the doorstep. Older and vulnerable people are priority for online deliveries with some supermarkets.
- Shop for a friend or family member or ask a friend to shop for you to minimise the number of people in the supermarket at any one time.
- In the supermarket, shop smart. Make a list of everything you need to stay healthy and well and buy food for as long ion advance as you possibly can.
- Find a community group. Community groups have been set up across the UK to help vulnerable people get the food they need while self-isolating. Find a group in your area here.
HVDS is an air filtration specialist serving the food industry. For more information about our services, click here. To read more about how the coronavirus pandemic will shape the future of the food industry, click here.
Last updated 20th April 2020
There is significant interest in the role that heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) play in the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). We tell you what you need to know, the implications and the steps you need to take.
How COVID-19 Transmits from Person to Person
First reported on 31st December 2019 in Wuhan City, coronavirus is an infectious disease that may cause illness in humans and animals. People who have coronavirus may experience a cough, a sore throat, a fever, fatigue and shortness of breath.
Research suggests that the virus is transmitted from person to person, either via close contact with an infected person or through droplets of fluid from the nose or mouth. People can catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from an infected person who coughs, sneezes or exhales droplets.
These droplets also land on surfaces and objects nearby. People can catch COVID-19 when they touch these surfaces, and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes. Alarmingly, it is believed that the virus may survive on surfaces for up to 9 days.
COVID-19 Transmission and HVAC Systems
What the Experts Say
Professor of architectural engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, Bahnfleth, states that,
“… there’s also the potential for airborne transmission. And if viruses that are viable are in those droplets that you’re producing, some of them will be small enough that they will stay airborne for a long time. So, it’s not impossible that infectious particles in the air could stay aloft long enough to be collected, say at the return grille of an HVAC system, go through a duct, and infect someone in a different space.”
A.G. Coombs Group is the leading Australian building services company. According to their Advisory Note of 18th March 2020,
“Droplet nuclei (2.5 to 10 µm) are believed to be able to remain suspended in air for hours and therefore be entrained into HVAC systems.”
In the last few days, it has been found in a study recently published in New England Journal of Medicine (DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973) that COVID-19 can be active for several hours airborne:
“Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days (depending on the inoculum shed).”
A typical HVAC system recirculates filtered air. A portion of outside air is added and a similar portion is exhausted. A droplet infected with a virus like coronavirus would travel through ducting and would settle on surfaces including air filters, fans, grilles and dampers. According to A.G. Coombs Group,
“There is a good likelihood that a particle would impact, entrain and dry on a surface.”
The Effectiveness of HEPA Filtration
The role of air filters is to trap particles to help prevent them entering the system in the first place. So would it be advisable to upgrade the level of air filtration to a HEPA (high efficiency particulate arrestance) filter? In reality, it’s not that simple.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has published a position document (along with other response resources) which states that HEPA filters are 99.97% effective in trapping particles down to 0.3 microns. It goes on to say that, like many viruses, coronavirus particles measure only between 0.06 and 0.14 microns, and quotes Bahnfleth as saying,
“Even HEPA filters that have been tested in the laboratory with viruses will have some level of penetration. Not much — a few percent.”
So, whilst HEPA filters offer some level of protection, they can’t guarantee absolute protection against virus transmission. In addition, not all fans are capable of creating the speed of airflow necessary to push air through HEPA filters.
The A.G. Coombs Group Advisory Note, written by senior Mechanical Engineer, Matthew Peacock, also recognises that HEPA filters may not be suitable for all HVAC systems, however, it does recommend checking the condition of the air filter and upgrading the filter media to F7 – F9 grade to reduce transmission of COVID-19 through the system.
Upgrading air filters is just one of the measures recommended by the report, which says that, according to research, droplets are less likely to be transmitted through a properly maintained HVAC system. In brief, other recommended measures include:
- Changing air filters*
- Conducting a cleanliness audit
- Cleaning or disinfecting the HVAC system
- Carrying out preventative maintenance
- Checking air flow rates and controls and, if possible, increasing the outside air rates
- Maintaining internal humidity in the range of 40 – 60% RH
* At HVDS, we recommend changing filters regularly and to a set schedule, rather than relying on final pressure.
View the full report and recommendations here.
ASHRAE Position Document
On 14th April 2020, ASHRAE published its ‘Position Document On Infectious Aerosols‘. The document states that HVAC systems ‘do impact the distribution and bio-burden of infectious aerosols’ and provides recommendations on the ‘design, installation, and operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, including air-cleaning, and local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems, to decrease the risk of infection transmission’.
In a separate COVID-19 statement in the position document, ASHRAE states, ‘Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air’. Visit ASHRAE for more COVID-19 resources.
The HVDS Holistic Approach
HVDS continues to take a holistic approach to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Management, in accordance with the current recommendations. Moreover, in the light of coronavirus, it is likely that there will be additional stipulations for food manufacturers. Proactive steps now will help manufacturers meet these in good time and remain audit compliant. For this reason, HVDS is including system surveys for contract customers on top of their existing service at no extra cost.
Our new ‘Weekly Tips’ email gives you advice and tips direct from the experts to your inbox about how to maintain good Indoor Air Quality on site.
These tips are based on over 40 years of providing clean air solutions and working with over 150 food manufacturers in the UK and Ireland.
Our tips are short and get to the heart of what matters to food manufacturers when it comes to maintaining audit-compliance. We cover topics such as:
- keeping your air filtration and LEV systems clean to meet Section 6 of the BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8
- tips on maintaining your fabric ducting
- how to control explosive atmospheres etc.
We hope that our weekly tips give you food for thought and help you keep your indoor air clean on site.
If you have any questions or would like to see certain topics covered in our weekly tips emails, please get in touch.
In February, we attended Food Safety Europe 2020 in London. During the event, our Food Industry Air Filtration and Ventilation Consultant, Tony Carvell, gave a talk. The talk looked at the benefits of a holistic approach to managed indoor air quality. In addition, it dispelled a few myths about maintaining clean air on food production sites.
Well worth a watch!
For more information about this topic click here.
Following Tony’s holistic approach talk, we had a lot of enquiries about our Risk Assessment Template. For your copy of our Risk Assessment Template for your food production site, please get in touch here. Alternatively, contact us on 01785 256976.
Our Risk Assessment Template lists all those areas of your HVAC system you should be checking and maintaining to help you conform to the BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8. Furthermore, it will highlight any areas that need to be addressed. This will help you to take control of your air handling system and maintain audit compliance.
Updated: 16th March 2020
Our Reassurance to You
During these unprecedented times, here at HVDS our priority is to protect the welfare of our customers and employees. In response to the potential spread of coronavirus, we are following the guidelines of Public Health England and NHS England, and at present, there is no impact on our services to you.
We continue to monitor advice and have robust processes in place to detect, identify and respond appropriately to any suspected or confirmed cases. This includes instructing any member of staff who feels ill to stay at home and consult NHS 111. To date, there has been no confirmed contact with coronavirus sufferers by our staff.
Continued Support for Your Site
Throughout these times of uncertainty, it is essential to continue to maintain scrupulous hygiene regimes in food production areas. Further to the enquiries we have been receiving regarding air cleanliness, we wanted to assure you that we are continuing to work with you to provide air that is free of airborne contaminants.
We are currently conducting air mapping and risk assessment surveys on site to help you maintain audit-compliant Indoor Air Quality. To book your survey, please call 01785 256976 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support.
Having dealt with customers the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, we have found there are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to maintaining Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) on site.
As food safety is of paramount importance, reducing spores, microbes, dust and other sources of airborne contamination should be part of an ongoing air handling programme for food production plants.
Contaminated Food is a Bigger Problem Than You Think
Do you know how many people in the world fall ill after eating contaminated food?
According to the World Health Organization in June this year, an estimated 600 million people (that’s almost 1 in 10 of us) fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year.
In this article, we dispel some of the myths surrounding IAQ, and put you on the right track to help keep your air clean and audit compliant at all times.
Myth 1: ‘Outdoor Air Quality Affects Food Production’
Outdoor air quality has only a very minimal effect on contamination in the food production process.
Findings at a Customer Site
One of our customers is located in the countryside in a low pollution area. The Engineering Manager has always been under the impression that the air on site was clean. He started to notice staining on the underside of his fabric ducting, however, and called us in to take a look. The air socks were in a high care area and, on investigation, we found mould growing inside them.
During winter his air supply system had been on heat mode and warm air coupled with moisture from production had created the perfect conditions for mould growth. This air in his system wasn’t coming from outside but was being recirculated through the system and air full of mould spores and bacteria was being carried to the high care production areas and risking food safety.
Why We Should Focus on Indoor Air Quality
So rather than outdoor air quality, it’s Indoor Air Quality we need to be concerned about. In indoor environments, uncontrolled factors, such as processes and personnel, contribute to the release of microorganisms in the air, which result in the majority of contaminants found in production areas.
So, the threat to human health and the damage to the reputation and finances of a brand is real. These are the hazards of poor air management.
Myth 2: ‘We Have An Air Handling Unit So Our Air Must Be Clean’
Unfortunately, having air handling units on your site does not guarantee clean air.
We find that sites assume that having an air handling unit guarantees that any nasties in the air are filtered out. But if you have had no professional risk assessment carried out, there might be important aspects of your system that you are overlooking. For example:
- Is the filter grade adequate for the type of production taking place in your production area?
- Are the filters being changed regularly enough and to a regular schedule?
- Is there contamination in your ductwork?
Myth 3: ‘We Should Change Our Air Filters Once They Have Reached The End Of Their Useful Life’
The third myth is that you should change your air filters once they have reached the end of their useful life.
Some companies insist there is an optimal time to replace air filters from an energy/ efficiency point of view and rely on pressure drop readings to indicate when this should be. We often find that our customers’ in-house engineers are often too busy to check pressure drop or examine the filters for wear and tear/build up and so it is not picked up soon enough that they need changing.
At HVDS, we know from experience that it is better to be preventative and change them according to a set schedule, and retailers will often state what this schedule should be. Changing air filters to a set schedule means that virus and bacteria do not get chance to build up.
This brings us to Myth 4.
Myth 4: ‘We’ve Changed Our Air Filters So Our Air Quality Is Good’
People think that just because they have changed their air filters, their IAQ must be good. Air filters, however, are only one of the potential sources of contamination when it comes to your HVAC system. In fact, some of the most common sources are often overlooked.
How about your ductwork? Looks great on the outside, but how often do you check inside? As well as mould growth in ductwork, we also see substances such as grease, packaging dust and grain and cereal dust.
A full Risk Assessment will often reveal further areas of concern, for example:
- The aluminium in coils in the AHU can break down, over time, to a fine powder residue, which could get carried through the HVAC system and into food.
- Condensate can pool in the drains, presenting a risk of Listeria and Legionella.
- Debris can build up in fans, leading to the growth of bacteria, which could get into food.
Myth 5: ‘We Can Base Indoor Air Management On Stats From Tests’
The final myth busted is that we can base indoor air management on stats from tests. This is simply not true. Each and every plant we visit is different, manufacturing different products with different processes, and therefore each has a different set of operating conditions. It depends very much on what you are manufacturing or processing as to what your air handling requirements will be.
Since tests done in labs can’t possibly reflect real operating conditions, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to air management. For this reason, we provide a comprehensive Risk Assessment, based on a Risk Assessment Template that conforms to the BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8. Our Risk Assessment will highlight any areas that need to be addressed, helping you to take control of your air handling system and maintain audit compliance. To enquire about our Risk Assessment Template, please contact us on 01785 256976 or get in touch here.
Foodex is just around the corner and preparations are well underway for our stand at the NEC, Birmingham from 30th March to 1st April. This year, we have a 7 x 7m stand (J201 in Hall 20) and will be exhibiting a range of our audit compliant services, including air filtration, dust extraction, system hygiene services and fabric ducting systems.
We understand that the regulations around maintaining good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in a food production environment can be confusing. And, of course, every site is different. We’re here to help. From ductwork cleaning issues to enquiries about installing air socks in your food production area – our air handling and dust extraction specialists will be on hand at Foodex to answer all your questions.
If you are responsible for quality, hygiene and food safety in your food production facility, you’ll no doubt also have questions about how your site can comply with the BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8. If your factory handles powdered ingredients, you will be interested in coming along to Foodex to find out how you can meet CoSHH Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) to keep the air your employees breathe clean and the ATEX regulations to keep your site safe. Alongside all of this, you’ll want to understand how we can work with you to not only keep your air clean, but to guarantee audit compliance and meet your cost reduction targets – all with minimum disruption to your manufacturing process.
Come to Foodex and find out how we can design a solution to help you gain control, once and for all, over your air handling systems. Furthermore, our holistic approach means that we have all bases covered for your complete peace of mind. We’ll help you overcome your challenges and put in place the most cost-effective solution that is tailored to your site’s individual needs.
“Our vision is a future where indoor air at food production sites no longer compromises food safety. We believe in a holistic approach that upholds audit-compliant standards at all times. We invite you to be part of the transformation.”
Mark Stevens, Managing Director, HVDS
Foodex is the UK’s premier trade event for the food and drink industry and is aimed at manufacturing professionals in the processing, packaging and logistics industries. Register to visit Foodex 2020 here (it’s free). Come and see us on stand J201 in Hall 20. Follow us on LinkedIn to keep up to date with all the latest information on IAQ for food manufacturers. For more information about Foodex, click here.
Our dust spares supply and installation business is booming. Customers want to be able to order the dust spares they need and have them fitted by trained engineers. At HVDS we do just that.
Our range of high quality state-of-the-art dust spares are designed for use in all makes and models of dust/fume/oil/mist extraction equipment. Our list of spares in stock here at HVDS includes LEV filter cartridges, filter socks and sleeves and pocket bags. We can also supply and fit, among other parts, filter regulators, damper motors, ducting, pressure gauges, valves and diaphrams and seals.
For your peace of mind, our accredited engineers will conduct regular LEV examinations and mechanical service inspections. HVDS LEV test engineers are P601 trained. P601 is the BOHS course for LEV engineers, which qualifies them for ‘Thorough Examination and Testing of Local Exhaust Ventilation Systems’. The LEV examination will highlight any maintenance requirements and the need for any replacement parts.
We have a dedicated dust extraction team. Jane Boon is our Dust Aftermarket Sales and Contracts Manager. Jane looks after our customers’ requirements for dust spares. She also coordinates engineer visits at a time to suit you. Jane says,
“We can offer you full system maintenance to keep you up and running and help you stay compliant at all times.”
HSE compliance is a major concern for manufacturing sites where dust, spray, mist, fume and oil is a challenge. Our service and dust spares are HSE and HSG258 compliant. Furthermore, maintaining your system it working at maximum efficiency will also help to prevent equipment failure and breakdown and reduce cost and energy use.
In food production sites, environmental air must be of a specified quality in terms of temperature, particle concentration and humidity. Additional controls are required for the manufacture of certain products and for high care production areas, in order to reduce the risk of contamination. Controlling the properties of indoor air can help to reduce the quantity and growth rate of micro-organisms in manufacturing areas and can reduce other particle content for maximum food safety. Airborne contaminants are removed by air filtration in the form of Air Handling Units (AHUs), and for the reasons outlined above, AHUs for the food industry differ from those for other applications, such as in residential or commercial environments. This article looks at the key design features of an AHU and ductwork for food production areas.
The food industry has a complex set of requirements for air management spanning food production, preparation and storage. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can optimise elements of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), such as temperature, humidity, odour and air distribution. Good IAQ has a major impact on product contamination, product shelf life and employee health.
“Properly designed air handling systems control airborne particulates and odours and minimise the risks to products from airborne contamination by infectious pathogens (e.g. Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli) and toxigenic pathogens (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus and clostridia) and spoilage micro-organisms (e.g. yeast, moulds, pseudomonads and lactic acid bacteria).”
Trends in Food Science & Technology 17 (2006)
Guidelines on air handling in the food industry
The design and maintenance of any AHU for use on a food production site, should be determined by the risks to product safety identified in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) risk assessment and by the risks to product quality identified by the site’s quality control system.
Each area of a food production site will have different risks and, therefore, different needs with regard to air handling. Conducting a specific risk assessment to determine these risks and filtration requirements is recommended. This risk assessment template should be based on the BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8 guidelines. Contact HVDS for a ‘Risk Assessment for Positive Airflow’ template.
An AHU should be designed to accommodate the varying conditions of the following operational states:
Normal Production State
An AHU will distribute filtered air, with controlled humidity and temperature, into the production area at the required rate and will recirculate it at typically 85% recirculation through the system.
When no production is taking place, a specified overpressure or temperature is maintained by inputting filtered or fully conditioned air into the production area. The AHU will allow air to be recirculated at a very low rate, depending on a number factors (e.g. the heat load or loss from the system) to ensure a positive pressure is maintained.
During factory cleaning, it is necessary to input filtered fresh air into the production area via the ducting. This serves to a) maintain the overpressure, b) protect the filters from moisture damage, c) extract moisture in the air directly to exhaust (without recirculation).
AHUs for food production must be maintained with minimum production downtime and in such a way as to prevent production area contamination. Certain design features, for example duplication of some equipment or ducts, allow for efficient servicing.
Food production areas can be categorised according to risk. This risk ranges from low risk (ambient-stable, packaged foods) to high risk (chilled, fresh and ready-to-eat foods). The level of risk will determine the level of air filtration needed and this, in turn, will determine the design of the AHU, for example with regard to doors and inlet/outlet hatches.
The air system should slow or prevent the growth and ingress of micro-organisms and filter out the particles that carry them. Hygienic design of the AHU will also prevent the system itself becoming a source of contamination.
The air handling system plays a role in controlling contamination risk in medium and high care areas for certain processes and products, such as salads or sandwiches. And in a high risk production area, for example, in the manufacture of cooked meats, the air handling system plays a critical role in controlling microbiological risks. Filter grade selection is a vital part of ensuring the correct level of filtration in each type of production area. The following table outlines the recommendations for food industry filter application grades in low care, high care and high risk areas.
Pre-filter grade captures heavy or coarse particles, whereas final filter grade captures sub-micron particulate.
Note: The food industry should avoid at all cost using glass fibre bag filters due to their fibre release and carcinogenic characteristics.
A step up from high risk areas is aseptic processing where foods are packaged in sterile conditions to produce products that do not need refrigeration. Before production starts, the air handling system must be capable of being thoroughly decontaminated. The manufacturer of the aseptic system will usually specify what volume of sterile air must be maintained by the air handling system for a sufficient overpressure and air outflow. The air handling system will also have to accommodate the particular operating conditions of the aseptic room, such as draught etc.
Low humidity in certain production areas can cause food product water loss. Where maintaining humidity is a factor for food quality, there are ways of humidifying the air, such as with an atomising humidifier or a steam injection humidifier, which distributes steam directly into the airstream.
High humidity is linked to microbial growth and can cause dry food products to absorb moisture. Removing moisture from the air is therefore essential. A good practice is to cool the air by passing it through a cooling coil in the air handling system. This serves to cool the air and the condensed water from the air will then be drained away. The air is then heated back to operating temperature.
Dust, condensate, extracted product and bacteria can build up in the AHU and ductwork of an air handling system. It is therefore essential to have a regular sanitisation schedule in place.
To ensure maximum system hygiene and to avoid the various parts of the system themselves becoming a source of contamination, an air handling system for the food industry must be manufactured with hygienic components and designed to facilitate visual inspection and regular deep cleaning. For example, there should be doors and hatches at regular intervals along the ducting to facilitate both inspection and cleaning. Ease of cleaning will also significantly reduce any production downtime.
The type and frequency of a cleaning schedule will be determined by a number of factors, including the standard of hygiene required in any specific production area, the contaminant burden in the fresh and recycled air, air velocity etc.
It was a long day and we got up very early to attend (4am!) but Food Safety Europe 2020 was as useful, relevant and informative and as we had hoped.
If you have any sort of responsibility for food safety in your organisation, you might want to consider attending this event next year. It’s a one-day conference held at around this time of year (February), which brings together food safety professionals to exchange ideas, pick each others’ brains and network.
The day comprised of presentations and panel discussions about various food safety and hygiene-related topics. These sessions were interspersed with networking coffee breaks where delegates mingled and browsed the various exhibition stands showcasing the products and services of the event sponsors.
This year saw a good mix of organisations exhibiting, including the event organiser – BRCGS, Bayer, Lloyd’s Register, SpaceVac, Klipspringer, Activate Lubricants and Campden BRI, to name but a few… and of course, ourselves.
As a Silver Sponsor of the event, we also gave one if the presentations, which was about the importance of taking a holistic approach to managed indoor air quality, and was delivered by our Air Filtration and Ventilation Consultant, Tony Carvell.
This year’s Food Safety Europe was a ‘completely paperless’ event, meaning that all information about the conference (programme, speaker information, feedback surveys etc.) was on the AttendeeHub app. As part of our presentation, we conducted a quick poll among the audience via the app. The question we asked was:
Approximately how many people in the world fall ill every year after eating contaminated food?
- 6 million
- 60 million
- 600 million
- 6 billion
Do you know the answer? (Answer at the bottom of this post)
Among other talks was a presentation by Lloyd’s Register about remote auditing, an update by the Food Standards Agency and a talk by McDonalds about managing food safety risk in the face of changing diets. All talks allowed for a 5-minute question and answer session afterwards, and questions could be asked in person or via the app.
The conference was held this year on Wednesday 12th February at County Hall in London. We were this close to the London Eye!
And a word about the food at the event – delicious! We couldn’t wait for the next networking break to find out what was coming next.
As well as gathering a lot of useful information, we made some good connections too and caught up with a few existing contacts. A successful day all round and we look forward to the next one.
The answer to the poll question above is: 600 million
For more information about HVDS’ air filtration and ventilation products and service for the food industry, please contact us on 01785 256976 or get in touch here.
HVAC and Dust Extraction Consultant, Darren Carvell, has been working at HVDS for almost two years. We interview Darren to find out more about him and understand what makes him tick.
What is your role at HVDS?
I help to look after customers on the supply side of the business. I also work with new customers on both HVAC and dust extraction contracts. This includes meeting and presenting to some of the UKs largest food manufacturers.
What is the best thing about working at HVDS?
I really enjoy working with my colleagues. There’s a fantastic team spirit among us -the engineers and the office staff alike. We are also fortunate enough to work with some very interesting food manufacturing sites.
What is your favorite food?
My favourite meal is a homemade Indian.
What are your hobbies?
I like music a lot and play the piano and the bass. I play along with music and also play music with my brothers.
What is your favourite place you’ve ever visited, and why?
I have an aunty in Barbados, and as a family we spent two weeks of our summer holidays there. It’s an incredible place, so hot and humid. One of things I liked about it the best was the food and drink, which was very tropical and fresh.
If you could live anywhere where would it be?
I grew up in Sutton Coldfield and now I live in a small village on the edge of Stafford. But if I could live anywhere, I would like to live in the Caribbean. It would have to be for retirement, as I couldn’t work in the humidity and heat.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I have just finished a book called “Let’s Roll!”
It’s about a young man who was on one of the planes that was hijacked in 2001 to try and hit the Pentagon, but they didn’t succeed. Its written by his wife, Lisa Beamer. It’s very inspirational.
What is your favourite book, and why?
The Operator by Robert O’Neill. It’s a book that was written by the US Navy SEAL that killed Osama Bin Laden.
What were your best and worst subjects at school?
My best subject at school was Art. My worst subject at school was French.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Willing, friendly and an early bird.
What is your greatest strength?
Memory, I can remember weird things like car number plates. I can also associate someone with their number plate…. Really strange!
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
Since we are speaking as a Thought Leader at Food Safety Europe 2020, we are able to offer you 20% off a ticket to the event.
Food Safety Europe 2020 takes place on Wednesday 12th February at County Hall in London. It is a BRCGS event for food safety professionals and all those who are interested in improving food safety management in retail, food service and manufacturing environments. The one-day conference will help you keep consumers safe despite the challenges, promising to deliver valuable insights and constructive knowledge-share. It also presents a networking opportunity.
20% Off Food Safety Europe 2020
Get 20% off your ticket with our promo code HVDS20. Click here to book. The full ticket price is £350, £290 for BRCGS partners or £120 for full-time students.
The day will include talks by speakers, including our very own Air Filtration and Ventilation Consultant, Tony Carvell. Other speakers include Helen Sisson, Group Technical Director at 2 Sisters Food Group, Stuart Kelly, Head of Commercial Customised Assurance at Lloyd’s Register, Rebecca Sudworth, Head of Policy at Food Standards Agency and John Figgins and David Brackston, technical specialists from the BRCGS, among others.
The event will also include the presentation of the BRCGS Food Safety (Europe) Awards, which will recognise “the outstanding commitment, support and performance of individuals and organisations who contribute to the development of the BRCGS Standards scheme and the wider food safety industry in the European markets”.
For a full programme of the day, please click here.
Etc Venues County Hall, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 7PB. County Hall is on the South Bank of the River Thames, next to Westminster Bridge.
For more information about our attendance at Food Safety Europe 2020, contact us here. We will also be exhibiting at Foodex at the NEC, Birmingham from 30th March to 1st April this year. Come and see us on stand J201 in Hall 20.
Thank you to all who completed the HVDS Annual Survey about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Your responses help us to understand even better the market for air filtration and ventilation in the food industry. Here are the Annual Survey 2019 results.
Number of AHUs
Almost three quarters of respondents have between 1 and 20 Air Handling Units (AHUs) on site. 17% have between 20 and 50 and 11% have more than 50.
In-house v. Third Party Filter Changes
An overwhelming 86% of sites use a third party to change their filters, instead of using their own engineers, and these are changed to a set schedule, rather than by pressure drop readings.
New Developments/Changes for 2020
In order of importance, the changes to be made by sites over the coming year are using a third party filtration service, investing in dust extraction equipment, testing and monitoring Indoor Air Quality and mapping airflow. Next on the list comes implementing a ductwork cleaning schedule, followed by reviewing air filter change frequency and carrying out repairs to the air handling system. None of the respondents listed intending to invest in additional AHUs or investing in in-house engineer training as something they wanted to implement in 2020.
IAQ Priorities for 2020
Top of the list for priorities for 2020 comes employee health and safety issues when it comes to Indoor Air Quality. Next in line comes meeting BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8, meeting cost reduction targets and causing minimal disruption to the production process, which carry an equal weighting. After that comes meeting customer audit requirements and a few respondents want to address specific issues on site.
The overwhelming majority of respondents have to comply with SafeContractor – with Human Focus, Food Hygiene Certification and other company specific compliance requirements coming in second.
We hope you found the Annual Survey 2019 results of interest. If you would like any information about any of our services, please contact us here or get in touch on 01785 256976.
This week we filmed our new corporate video on location at customer premises. We captured footage of our engineers doing what they do best, such as testing LEVs, changing air filters, conducting surveys, cleaning ductwork, maintaining air socks, monitoring workplace air and inspecting air handling units.
The video was shot at a UK food factory and the day’s filming involved engineers from the HVDS Hygiene Team, air filtration team and dust extraction team and was also attended by HVDS Marketing Manager, Rachel Robb. Rachel says,
“We wanted to create a video that accurately showcases our services so that prospective customers would know what to expect from HVDS. We think this video will get under the skin of what we do by showing the engineers in action on site.”
The filming was carried out by film and video production company, Lilac Films with Steve Cranston behind the camera. Steve has produced professional corporate videos over the years for local and national organisations. http://lilac-films.com/
Once edited, the new corporate video will feature on the HVDS website www.hvds.co.uk and will also be played with subtitles on the HVDS stand (J201 in Hall 20) at Foodex 2020 at the NEC in Birmingham from 30th March to 1st April this year. Rachel says,
“We’re really looking forward to seeing the finished product. Lilac Films are great to work with and we’re very impressed with the work Steve has done so far.”
As well as capturing the corporate video footage, Steve also took some stills during the day showing various aspects of the engineers’ work and the equipment they were working on, such as dust extraction units and air handling units both in the factory roof void and externally.
For more information about HVDS services, please contact us here, or to find out more about what our engineers could do for your business, please contact our team on 01785 256976.
You could be forgiven for thinking that your ductwork is as clean as a whistle. After all, it looks it from the outside, doesn’t it? But HVDS engineers, who have helped customers the length and breadth of the country, know that external appearance can be deceptive. Our Hygiene Team have removed a variety of substances from air handling system ductwork as part of their cleaning and maintenance service, thus improving the efficiency of the system, reducing the energy usage of the production area and optimising food safety and the health and safety of employees.
It obviously depends on what you are producing as to what lurks inside your ductwork. A recent visit to a baked goods factory revealed a build-up of mould and bacteria inside their fabric ducting. HVDS engineers removed the air socks and rather than launder them, the socks were condemned, and replacement socks were installed in the relevant production areas. The engineers also removed any debris and sanitised all other relevant parts of the Air Handling Unit to ensure maximum hygiene. All this was achieved for the factory just ahead of a major audit. Read the case study here.
At a morning food manufacturing site, a steel duct had burst under the pressure of a build-up of dust inside it. HVDS Technical Engineers arrived on site within 24 hours. When we investigated further, we found that the ductwork across the whole system was clogged with dust from production, resulting in a serious reduction in machine efficiency. Our engineers stripped down the machinery and carried out a massive clean-up exercise. It is worth noting that dust from the ductwork explosion had been dispersed across four floors of the production facility, causing a major food safety and cross-contamination hazard. Some food dusts are flammable under certain circumstances, and a resulting fire could have much worse consequences. Read the case study here.
Grease in flue extract systems can be a problem if not cleaned regularly. The photo below shows build-up in the ductwork at one UK food manufacturing site. In places the extracted product reached a depth of 3 inches or more. The grease & carbon was removed using scrapers, brushes and vacuums. In total, around 10 gallons of fluid grease and foreign matter was removed from the ductwork and extraction flue system over a period of 5 days. Read the case study here.
Our BESA qualified engineers work in accordance with industry standards, using cutting edge techniques, such as mechanical cleaning, rotary brushing, compressed air jetting and traditional hand cleaning. Internal ductwork inspections can be carried out via camera probe.
For more information about our HVAC and LEV hygiene and maintenance service, take a look here or download our brochure here. To contact us for advice or to book your visit from our Hygiene Team, please get in touch here.
2019 was a very busy and successful year for HVDS and 2020 will see us building on that growth. Here is what is in store for the company this year.
New Members of Staff
We welcome Christian Taylor, who joins our dust extraction team as Projects and Contracts Engineering Manager. Christian will be helping customers with new dust extraction system installations. For a new installation quote for your site, get in touch with Christian at email@example.com
As manufacturing sites continue to prioritise regular ductwork and flue extraction cleaning, we will continue to recruit engineers to our Hygiene Team. The team performs deep cleans of systems all over the UK to keep them energy efficient and audit compliant. To book your deep clean, contact us here or to enquire about a cleaning engineer role at HVDS, check our careers page here.
Our Food Industry Air Filtration and Ventilation Consultant, Tony Carvell, will be speaking at Food Safety Europe 2020 in London on 12th February. The BRCGS event, which takes place at County Hall, is a firm favourite with HVDS, as it brings together food industry professionals to discuss various aspects of food safety. It is an opportunity to share knowledge and learn from industry experts. Tony’s talk is about why it is important to take a holistic view of Indoor Air Quality. To book your place at Food Safety Europe 2020 or to find out more, click here.
We will also be exhibiting at Foodex 2020 at the NEC, Birmingham, from 30th March to 1st April. This will be the fourth time we have taken part in this show, and this year’s stand is the biggest and best for HVDS yet, showcasing all areas of our business including air filtration, fabric ducting, ductwork cleaning and dust, fume, mist, spray and oil extraction. Come along and see us on stand J201 in Hall 20.
After the success of our eFUSION™ app in 2019, which gives you 24/7 access to your air handling and air hygiene reports, we are proud to announce the MAXAIR™ app for our customers benefiting from our dust control service. The app will keep all your reports in place for easy access and audit purposes. More information to follow.
New for 2020 is our risk assessment template. In checklist format, this template guides you through everything you need to consider in order to comply with BRCGS Food safety Issue 8. It also highlights the level of risk where no action is taken. If you would like a copy of our risk assessment template, or would be interested in a full risk assessment by our trained engineers, please get in touch.
At HVDS, we recognise the value to our customers of providing useful information to help them maintain good Indoor Air Quality. For this reason, we are putting together a suite of resources that can be downloaded from our website for free. These include, for example, data sheets for each of our products, our HACCP Plan Template, our service brochures and checklists, such as this one about how to prolong the life and get the most out of your fabric ducting.
In 2020, we will continue to build on these resources. If there is anything you would find particularly useful, please drop us a line to let us know and we will do our best to provide it.
We will continue to listen to our customers to ensure we are giving them what they need and want. To help us with this, at the end on 2019, we conducted our Annual Survey. This highlighted the challenges our customers are facing and their priorities for the coming year. The results of this survey will be out later this month. Watch this space!
On behalf of the team at HVDS, we wish you all a happy and successful 2020!
We are delighted to be attending Foodex again this year! Foodex 2020 is the UK’s premier trade event for the food and drink industry and is aimed at manufacturing professionals in the processing, packaging and logistics industries. It takes place from 30th March to 1st April 2020 at the NEC in Birmingham.
As a real one-stop shop for the food and beverage industry, Foodex 2020 will highlight the top trends across the food manufacturing sectors. These trends will include improving traceability and consumer trust, food safety and transforming productivity, as well as showcasing the product launches, the newest technology and the latest ingredients and superfoods to hit the market.
The type of visitors to Foodex 2020 (and, in fact, those that would benefit the most from attending) will include health and safety representatives, site managers, equipment buyers, food technologists, warehouse managers, supply chain professionals, transport managers, both plant and craft bakers and butchers. Watch the video below to find out what visitors to Foodex 2018 said about the show.
As a specialist supplier to the food industry (serving over 100 of the largest food and drink manufacturers in the UK and Ireland), we are looking forward to making valuable contacts within the industry, as well as showcasing our 40-year plus experience in providing clean air solutions.
On our stand (J201 in Hall 20) we will be displaying our clean air services, including:
- Air filtration
- Dust, fume, spray, mist and oil extraction
- Cleaning and maintenance
At Foodex 2020, there will also be plenty of opportunity to hear about the issues that are currently shaping the industry with seminar sessions by manufacturing industry thought-leaders. In addition, with everyone who is anyone in the food and drink industry under one roof, there will be the chance to source new suppliers to further boost efficiency and productivity.
Exhibiting alongside Foodex 2020, during the same three days in neighbouring halls, is The Ingredients Show, Food & Drink Expo 2020, National Convenience Show and Farm Shop Deli Show. The five shows are expecting over 30,000 attendees, 1,500 exhibitors, 250 speakers and 100 live events.
If you are going to be at Foodex this year, we would love you to come and say hello to us on stand J201. In the meantime, feel free to connect on LinkedIn.