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Viral Penetration of High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters (PREPRINT)

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Journal article preprint

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High Efficiency Particulate Air HEPA filters are the primary technology used for particulate removal in individual and collective protection applications. HEPA filters are commonly thought to be impenetrable, but in fact they are only 99.97 efficient at collecting the most-penetrating particle approx. 0.3 micrometer. While this is an impressive collection efficiency, HEPA filters may not provide adequate protection for all threats viruses are submicron in size and have small minimum infections doses MID50. Thus, an appropriate viral challenge may yield penetration that will lead to infection of personnel. However, the overall particle size agglomerated viruses andor viruses attached to inert carriers will determine the capture efficiency of the HEPA filter. Aerosolized viruses are commonly thought to exist as agglomerates, which would increase the particle size and consequently increase their capture efficiency. However, many of the threat agent viruses can be highly agglomerated and still exist as submicron particles. We have demonstrated that MS2 coli phage aerosols can penetrate Carbon HEPA Aerosol Canisters CHAC. At a face velocity of 2 cmsec, a nebulized challenge of approx. 105 viable plaque forming units PFU per liter of air results in penetration of approx. 1 - 2 viable PFU per liter of air. We are currently investigating the particle size distribution of the MS2 coli phage aerosol to determine if the challenge is tactically relevant. Preliminary results indicate that 200-300-nanometer particles account for approx. 7.5 of the total number of particles. Our aim is to characterize multiple aerosol conditions and measure the effects on viable penetration. This study will expand our knowledge of the tactical threat posed by viral aerosols to HEPA filter systems.

Subject Categories:

  • Pumps, Filters, Pipes, Tubing, Fittings and Valves
  • Safety Engineering
  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare
  • Protective Equipment

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