Purifying the air for future generations

Purifying the air for future generations

The hazards created by such activities as soldering, welding, wood and metal working, and chemical experiments cannot be overlooked. The fumes and dust created...

At the beginning of the 21st Century, subjects such as craft, technology and science play a valuable and important role in our schools and colleges. The hazards created by such activities as soldering, welding, wood and metal working, and chemical experiments cannot be overlooked. The fumes and dust created by these processes are extremely toxic. For example, solder fume can contain the following harmful substances:

  • Lead Oxide
  • Aliphatic Aldehydes
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Hydrochloric Acid
  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
  • Isocyanates
  • Abietic Acid
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Pimaric Acid

Young engineers, children and teachers (who will be exposed to fumes over longer periods of time) can develop many serious medical complaints such as sionasal cancer, bronchitis and especially asthma, a condition already prevalent in children.

It is for this reason that Caerphilly County Borough Council carried out a survey of its comprehensive schools to assess the hazards found therein. To help them perform this task, the council employed the talents of PUREX International, specialists in fume extraction and the manufacturers of the Purex range of extraction and purification equipment. Mike Workman, Principal Commercial & Trading Standards Officer for Caerphilly says "If there is specialist advice available regarding such important matters, it is incumbent on local authorities to make the best use of it"

The outcome of the survey was the fitting of Purex Extraction machines in the CDT Departments of various schools in the region, including St Cenydds, St Martins and Pontllanfraith Comprehensive schools. David Eynon, the Headteacher at St Cenydds asserts "Everyone is entitled to expect safe working practices, and that includes children. It is the responsibility of schools and colleges to educate students in ways of working safely".

The Purex systems are of robust design and operate on several different levels to ensure the working environment is protected. As soon as air is drawn into a Purex machine, its direction of flow is diverted through 90 degrees. This throws larger particles out of the air stream and into a collection tray, thus preventing them from entering the filter and prematurely reducing its life span. Relatively inexpensive pre-filters are used to collect larger particles over 2 microns and prevent them from prematurely blocking the HEPA filters.

The filters used in Purex machines have been designed to offer many unique features: -

  • Maximum airflow - Used in conjunction with high-pressure pumps the maximum possible airflow is achieved, which extends filter life.
  • Guaranteed unburstable - By employing a unique reinforcing membrane that is 100x stronger than the filter media itself.
  • Pleat design - This unique design gives around twice the filter media area than in other filters, thus extending life span.
  • Pre-tested - All filters are tested and certified with serial numbers and unique holograms.
  • Maximum filtration - In independent tests, these filters remove 99.997% of all particles above 0.3 microns and 95% down to 0.01 micron.
  • Precise and rigid construction - Ensures that no fumes are allowed to pass around the filter and escape into the workplace.

The equipment was installed with the minimum of disruption to the schools involved, and is small enough to fit under benches or desks. Pupils can easily plug in and out of the system by means of On/Off Taps and there is a minimum of day-to-day maintenance required, as filters can be changed in seconds. Full annual service and certification to the COSHH Regulations is available from PUREX International along with a 24 hour response guarantee for maintenance calls.

Phil Mullins - Managing Director of PUREX International comments, "Our company has invested heavily in research and development of these systems for schools. They are manufactured using the highest quality materials and very stringent production and testing procedures as we are, at the end of the day, protecting future generations from developing serious medical conditions."

PUREX International has produced useful free information datasheets for local authorities and schools. A video is also available which demonstrates the hazards due to fumes, explains the legal obligations of schools and colleges, and discusses the best solutions to these problems. Useful literature from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can also be obtained.