Thursday, August 21, 2008

What air filtration can do

John Pertzborn of Channel 2 News asked me this morning if air filtration machines can remove the carcinogens of secondhand smoke from bar and restaurant air. This letter from Marth Brothers & Co., written as part of the effort by Marth Brothers to fully inform Chicago officials on this issue, explains what air filtration can really do to remove environmental tobacco smoke from bar and restaurant air:

This letter is in response to the proposed smoking ban and the effectiveness of filtration systems on indoor air quality (IAQ) contaminants with specific regard to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).There are specifically designed commercially available systems that will remove the toxic and carcinogenic components of Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS).

Such a system includes high efficiency particulate filtration along with sorbent media and Photo Catalytic Oxidation (PCO) systems to remove the toxic gasses, chemicals and carcinogens. Because of the type of technologies that will be used, the system will also remove unrelated bio-aerosols, volatile organic compounds (VOC's), various gaseous hydrocarbons, mold, and viruses.

These technologies are recognized and used by the EPA and NIOSH. NASA, National Laboratories, and the Military (for protection from airborne chemical, biological and nuclear terrorists weapons), use these technologies as their main course of mitigation. The technologies in question have been developed and improved over the last half century to protect human health and reduce the associated hazards.

With the invention of the Hepa filter at the laboratories of Los Alamos, particulate filtration took a massive step forward. PCO, Adsorbent and the newer Chemi-sorbent materials have made it possible to capture or destroy hazardous and reactive gasses with sorbent/chemical filtration, which include the toxic and carcinogenic components of ETS.

I have included a web link connection that proves the effectiveness of these technologies. This primary paper I have included with this document is a joint study from the Office of Homeland Security (OHS), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that tell how the technology that we are speaking of will actually protect building owners and occupants from chemical, biological, and radiological terrorist’s weapons. In other words, not only simple particulates and gasses found in ETS, but also complex multi-strain bacterium and airborne man-made toxic gasses will be captured or killed.

Rebuttal Thoughts

Many things have been stated about filtration in the debate over ETS, some true and some false in example

ASHRAE (American Society of Heating and Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers) states that no amount of ventilation can remove ETS, this is a true statement. Ventilation means to introduce outside air into a contained space to replace contaminated air. ETS is in some cases is as heavy as or heavier than air that is why it “hangs” in the room. To ventilate a room completely you would first have to have a perfect air flow pattern (impossible with occupants in the room). Secondly enough airflow power to purge the room (very loud and expensive). They state that ETS will migrate from room to room through the ventilation system. This statement is true; a typical HVAC system serves many rooms. The statement that ASHRAE made that no one is talking about is that the only way to control ETS is to have a separate HVAC system in each room. ASHRAE is a group comprised of representatives of companies that manufacture HVAC systems MBC Advocates Filtration not Ventilation!

American Cancer Society has stated that there is no kind of filtration that can remove ETS, this statement is wrong. The United States and local governments use similar technologies to kill or capture Volatile Organic Compounds and bioterrorist weapons, in example the filters in the Abrahams A-1 tank can filter out Anthrax and Sars. Firefighters wear the NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) breathing masks that filter out the carcinogens from fires. ( almost the same chemical content as ETS) Airports and other municipalities use Carbon and Potassium Permanganate to keep the toxic jet fumes from entering the airport buildings With everyday advances in science it is truly irresponsible to make a blanket statement like there is no technology available

The Surgeon General of the United States, has stated that no amount of ETS exposure is acceptable, this statement is technically true, there is no level of any toxic contaminants that can be deemed completely safe, which is why they developed the term “acceptable levels”. In example, in factories you can have an acceptable level of certain contaminants, in food you can have acceptable levels of toxins, excrement, insect parts, mercury levels, steroids in beef ETC. This term was developed because there are very few absolutes in life.

The Environmental Protection Agency, states that no filtration system can remove 100% of ETS from a air, this statement is true, we can however, get the air in a room purified to levels in some cases that are undetectable by measuring equipment ( 200 parts per billion of VOC’s) and in most cases lower than the EPA’s Green building standard ( the highest standard, VOC’s at or below 600 parts per billion) and in all cases proper filtration can clean the air of Partculates,VOC’s and all toxic Bio-Aerosols cleaner than the outside air surrounding the business.

Marth Brothers and Company Inc. is neither pro-smoking nor pro-smoking ban, we are pro- technology.

Best regards,

Michael Marth, Technical Director
Marth Brothers & Company Inc.

Expert analysis such as this explains why the Chicago Board of Aldermen passed an air filtration exemption as part of the Chicago smoking ban:

"Any public place or place of employment otherwise subject to this Chapter whose owner or operator can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the commissioner of public health and the commissioner of the environment, that such area has been equipped with air filtration or purification devices or similar technologies as to render the exposure to secondhand smoke in such area, notwithstanding the fact that smoking may be occurring in such area, equivalent to such exposure to secondhand smoke in the ambient outdoor air surrounding the establishment. The commissioner of public health and the commissioner of the environment are jointly authorized to promulgate regulations specifying what types of technologies, when and if available, and taking into account any applicable Federal and/or State standards, satisfy the requirements of this paragraph."