Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Filtration technology — preventing hospital infections

Hospital air can contain germs and other dangers. A new filtration system cost-effectively prevents infection to make hospitals safer.
Filtration technology — preventing hospital infections
Hospitals can be dangerous places as it is also a home to the toughest and most dangerous germs. Approximately 10 % of European hospital patients acquire infections from hospitals. These infections can be difficult or impossible to treat, causing an estimated 50 000 deaths per year in Europe. Additionally, such infections increase the length of hospital stays, costing European healthcare systems approximately EUR 17 billion annually. Standard hospital air treatment measures are expensive limiting their use to critical areas.

The EU-funded HAIFREE project is working towards developing a novel filtration system that can cost-effectively trap and kill airborne germs. Researchers intend to develop an 'install and forget' hospital air filtration system using a combination of germ-killing technologies, including electroprecipitation, anti-bacterial surfaces and ozone for germ-burning. These would remove 99.9 % of germ particles, and 95 % of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ozone eliminates most waste products, except for carbon dioxide and water, while circumventing clogging issues with easier maintenance.

HAIFREE's scientific achievements for the reporting period have substantially increased the understanding of the properties of airborne pathogens and development of novel handling techniques. Project members were also successful in identifying relevant technical variables affecting the performance and safety of the filtration units.

Beyond its scientific goals, the project aimed to develop and validate a prototype system. This has been installed and tested in a surgical theatre at San Pedro Hospital in Logrono, Spain with promising results. The prototype has been shown to reduce exposure to VOCs and pathogen contamination without producing dangerous residue or any ozone leakage.

Project members disseminated information about the project at various conferences, workshops and trade fairs. This action will help to identify potential small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) partners to fully commercialise the technology in stages.

HAIFREE's technology will lead to a reduction in hospital-caused infections, meaning shorter hospital stays and more effective treatment with significant health care benefits. The technology is also adaptable to other sites needing air filtration, such as exhaust from restaurants and laboratories, which also cause respiratory illness.

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