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 Aug 21, 2020

And now for the science!

Every time we use a handpiece or the airflow in the hygienist room, we generate a spray which has 3 distinct parts.  Spatter, droplet and aerosol. 

Spatter is large particles and is visible on surfaces such as on the visors we wear. These particles are heavy and tend to hit the floor or any avilable surface fairly quickly. 

Droplets are smaller particles and what tends to happen is that the liquid in them evaporates leaving the smaller nuclei suspended in the air.  

Aerosol is the invisible minuscule particles (< 5um). 

Both aerosol and droplet particles can remain airborne for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

And this is where our air filtration comes into play.  The machine we have chosen is medical grade and acts on all of these particles to provide a safer environment in the treatment rooms

The system combines 8 different filtration technologies to filter all toxic particles while the filtration process consists of a multi-layer filter with 6 different technologies, a UV lamp, and an ioniser.

Multi layer filter:

Prefilter: traps all large particles (larger than one micron) such as hair and dust.

HEPA filter: HEPA is an acronym which designates a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter. These filter more than 99.97% of particles with a diameter greater than or equal to 0.3microns and are used in many medical and pharmaceutical settings.

Bamboo fibre: Bamboo has strong antibacterial and excellent particle filtration properties

Lysozyme: This is a molecule which is part of the immune system of most animals and provides a natural and effective action against microbes by attacking the cell walls.

Activated carbon: This is very effective against fine particles of pollution and has a high fixing and retention point meaning it hangs on to these particles very effectively.

Photocatalysis: a chemical reaction activated by the UV lamp which produces molecules which react with the pollution particles present in the air and degrades them.

Other technologies

UV Lamp: this is a powerful disinfection method against microorganisms and is a method frequently employed in operating theatres.  

Ionisation: this is the only ‘active’ filtration method in these machines. Negative Ions (anions) are diffused in the air. Due to their polarity, these ions are highly reactive and will target pollution particles of positive polarity.  They will either cause them to disintegrate or fall to the ground by weighing them down, thus ensuring your lungs are protected.

Interestingly negative ions are commonly associated with a feeling of wellbeing due to their presence in natural environments such as mountains, forests and waterfalls. The air filtration system will change the air in Robs  room up to 8 times per hour and 11 in mine so with open windows as well the turn over rate will be higher.

The system has a remote display which adjusts the fan speed automatically depending on the indoor particle pollution level. monitors the levels of pollution in the air and adjusts the fan speed accordingly.  The big number on the left side of the remote corresponds to the Particulate Matter (PM) level in the room and corresponds to fine particle pollution present in the air.

PM2.5 corresponds to fine inhalable particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller. That is 30 times smaller than the average human hair! 

The World Health Organisation recommends that PM2.5 does not exceed 25 ug/m3 24hour mean. As you will see from the picture of the remote midway through an airflow treatment, with the windows open, the level is 3 ug/m3.

However rather than having to keep an eye on the remote the makers of this machine realised in a busy environment you need a big and visual cue if there is a concern so there is a display bar on the front of the machine which works its way through Green (excellent air quality) Blue (moderate), Yellow (unhealthy) and Red (very unhealthy).   Ours has stayed firmly in green through all of the treatment this week.

 

One final bit of science for you if you have the patience – our hand sanatiser/surface spray.

As the particles remaining after the air filtration are grounded and land on surfaces in the treatment room, they are neutralised by the residual effect of Xtra protect

Many of you have been surprised to find that the hand sanitiser is not alcohol based.  So, let’s explain a little about this. 

In the early stages of the pandemic the World Health Organisation advised us all to use 70% alcohol-based hand sanitiser as this is effective against the virus and is normally easily available. 

In dentistry we have not used alcohol-based products for a long time as the alcohol sets the protein contained in saliva and blood making it difficult to effectively sanitise a surface. Thus our search for a product like this.  There is more on this product in our main blog.  Follow the link to find out more about it.

Gentle Dental Blog