How to Avoid Compressed Air Contaminants for Hospital Applications

The compressed air in hospital applications must meet incredibly high purity standards.

Posted on June 1st, 2022

Compressed air is in almost every department in a hospital. Without compressed air, patients would not be able to receive anesthesia, inhaled medications, or even breath with the aid of a ventilator. Even many surgical tools require the use of compressed air to operate.

The compressed air in a hospital must meet incredibly high purity standards. Even the slightest number of contaminants in the airflow could cause life-threatening repercussions.

How Hospitals Use Air Compressors

Air compressors are used to supply compressed air to a wide range of tools and systems within a hospital. Today, most air compressors are non-lubricated to prevent oils from entering the air stream and to meet the medical industry’s standards.
Compressed air is used in many instances, including:

  • Keeping a patient breathing during surgery
  • Removing the risk of an airborne disease being spread throughout the building
  • Maintaining a patient’s air supply while on a ventilator
  • Supplying maintenance with the ability to use pneumatic tools
  • Adjusting hospital beds to an upright position
  • Simulating a breathing patient to help train staff members

Compressor Requirements for Hospital Use

Oil was the most dangerous contaminant found in compressed air in the past. Previously standard, oil lubricated compressors would allow some oil to enter the system, which was unsafe for patients. Nowadays, oil-free compressors are used in hospitals because they are generally simpler to use, safe, and cost-effective. Now, the most damaging contaminant found in a compressed air system is moisture.

Moisture in Compressed Air

Liquid water and moisture vapor (humidity) are the worst contaminants in a hospital’s compressed air system. Moisture causes corrosion. A system with corrosion is often unreliable and could cause costly damage. Beyond that, moisture aids in the growth of mold. Mold within a lifesaving device can have disastrous effects on patients.

Excessive amounts of water in a system can overwhelm high efficiency filters that are needed to remove traces of oil and particulate contaminants and may also damage downstream air treatment equipment. Failure of these air treatment devices can allow contaminants and even viruses to reach the end-user, which is frequently the patient.

If a compressed air system is damaged by moisture, it often cannot be repaired. Sometimes a system can be refurbished entirely to use again. However, it is costly.

How to Avoid Moisture in a Hospital’s Compressed Air System

To eliminate water and moisture from your compressed air system, you must use a water separator and a compressed air dryer. Water separators should be in your system to remove bulk water, followed by a high efficiency prefilter and compressed air dryer. The dryer will then remove the water vapor so that moisture will not reappear downstream. For a full explanation of why you need both a water separator, prefilter, and dryer, read our other blog HERE.

Beyond the water separators and dryers, effluent drains and seals should be serviced regularly. No matter how small, a worn-out component could allow contaminants to enter the system.

Other Contaminant Risks

Quality compressed air filters are essential beyond the oil-free compressor, water separator, and compressed air dryer. Choose a system that utilizes 0.01 micron filter elements and is NFPA 99 or HTM 02-01 certified. These characteristics will ensure that a compressed air system is qualified for lifesaving uses.

Always Guarantee Life-Saving Compressed Air

Hospitals cannot allow for the possibility of contamination in their compressed air stream. Compressed air reaches almost every aspect of a hospital, and patients’ lives depend on it. Guarantee a hospital-ready compressed air system by supplying water separators, compressed air dryers, and compressed air filters with every package.
Contact us today to learn more about Walker Filtration’s compressed air solutions for your hospital applications.

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