The Risk of COVID in Compressed Air

The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) is reiterating its advice to compressed air users to adhere to air treatment best practice during the Coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 Compressed Air Risk Assessment

If you use compressed air the World Health Organisation updated guidance on the possibility of airborne transmission of the virus likely causes concern. Although the situation continues to be dynamic, the updated document by BCAS following the revision to the WHO change on the possibility of airborne transmission of the virus makes the position clear.

The BCAS published document released July 20th 2020 is designed to assist you to manage any concerns of those working with compressed air may be expressing - which is available at www.cambscompressors.co.uk/covidriskassessment.

BCAS bullet points on the risk of COVID in compressed air:

  • Compressor rooms are well ventilated.
  • There is minimal risk of short-range aerosol transmission at the point of compressor intake.
  • At the point of compression, the air temperature is high, the heating time is short and with the compression processes, viruses do not tend to survive.
  • During compression, the compressed air temperature is higher than the temperature needed to kill COVID-19. It is documented that heat at 56ºC kills the Coronavirus.
  • Appropriate downstream purification systems typically treat the compressed air to aerosol sizes significantly smaller than those referenced by the WHO (human generated aerosols <5 micron, good filtration down to <0.01 micron)
  • The compressor has two-stage filtration (panel and intake filter) prior to compression. Air is drawn into an air compressor, through panel filters and then through intake filters on its way to the compression chamber. Ambient air contaminants would have to remain in aerosol form to pass through panel and intake filters in order to enter the compressor intake.  This is highly unlikely, but even if panel and intake filtration was compromised, the contaminant would not remain in aerosol form during compression.

BCAS Best Practice Guide 102

BPG102 includes guidance on the installation of appropriate inline coalescing filtration and its regular maintenance, as these will remove multiple contaminants include micro-organisms, oil and water aerosols.

In addition, the guidance recommends using a dewpoint of -40ºC to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms, and filtration to reduce the micro-organisms and particulate.

The specification requires the installation of a minimum of two aerosol reduction filters (down to 0.01mg/m3 of oil aerosol and particle reduction down to 0.01 micron).

These protective measures will ensure that, in the unlikely event that the COVID-19 or other viruses still survive the heat of compression, aerosol reduction filters in the compressor room combined with a very low dewpoint and point-of-use dry particulate filters, will remove the risk from compressed air.

Do you know the safe operating limits of your pressure systems?

Under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000, users and owners of pressure systems are required to demonstrate that they know the safe operating limits (principally pressure and temperature) of their systems, and that they are safe under those conditions. They need to ensure that a suitable written scheme of examination is in place before the system is operated. They also need to ensure that the system is actually examined in accordance with the written scheme of examination.

Safety is our priority in supporting our customers during COVID-19

Call Cambs Compressors to get your FREE COVID-19 Compressed Air Risk Assessment and individual compressed air system survey, which audits and provides recommendations so you can make a fully informed risk assessment on your compressed air system.

Cambs Compressors continues to be operational, to offer support to companies that are operating their compressed air systems as the HSE has confirmed, it continues to be essential work to maintain compressed air systems. Compressed air systems have a legal requirement under the Pressure System Safety Regulations 2000 to ensure they are maintained on a regular basis and this includes receiver inspections, safety component inspections, regular maintenance, repairs and breathing air tests. If these are not completed, then there are potential repercussions to the health of operators and people working in the vicinity of these systems.

Concerning on-site service and installations, these will continue with the Cambs Compressors Covid-19 Secure procedures we have in place, and as with field sales visits, we will continue with site-specific risk assessments. Our internal manufacturing, workshop and office functions will continue under similar procedures.

Our risk assessment created for field sales visits is under constant review. Face coverings are worn, on any site visit and that customer rules on-site are fully complied with. If you have any questions about Cambs Compressors COVID-19 Working Practices, we're happy to discuss them and take on any feedback.

 

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