At a recent sales meeting, Paul Miller, general manager of Nilfisk, one of the world’s leading suppliers of HEPA-filtered industrial vacuums, gave a presentation titled, Nanotechnology. The word itself, written boldly across a power point slide, immediately conjured up images of a high school science room overflowing with microscopes and atomic models.
Because nanoparticles follow airstreams, vacuums are an effective and efficient tool for protecting nanomanufacturers. HEPA filters will collect 99.97% of particles down to and including 0.3 microns. A vacuum with graduated filtration adds even greater protection. For peak operating efficiency, a vacuum with a multi-stage or graduated filtration system uses a series of progressively finer filters to trap and retain particles as they move through the vacuum. This multistage system protects the HEPA filters from blockage and excessive wear and tear, maintaining peak performance. Optimally, the industrial vacuum should feature a HEPA-filtered exhaust stream to further ensure that any air exhausted out of the vacuum is decontaminated and, therefore, safe to breathe. For ultimate safety, an ULPA filter may want to be considered, as it filters 99.999% of microns, down to and including 0.12 microns. And for workers handling highrisk materials, explosion-proof vacuums (EXP) should be factored into the maintenance plan.
In a separate report done for the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association, researchers from MIT and the University of Massachusetts Lowell also concluded that even though the dangers of nanotechnology are still unclear, HEPA-filtered vacuums should be used in university nano-research centers for general maintenance and spill response.