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Quick Answers to 10 Common Questions About Dust Containment Systems

Dust containment systems for pharmaceutical manufacturing are fairly new. When we launched our newest dust containment system in 2016, it was the first one designed and built exclusively for pharmaceutical suites.

The following quick answers to common questions will help you understand the whats, whys, and hows of dust containment systems.

What’s the main function of a dust containment system?

Dust containment systems protect your personnel from contact with hazardous dusts during the manufacturing process and during maintenance of the containment system. They also prevent cross-contamination by keeping dusts from being dispersed into the environment.

How does a dust containment system differ from a traditional filter system?

Dust containment systems use a cyclone pre-separator to capture hazardous dusts. There’s still a HEPA filter (sometimes two), but 99% of dusts are stopped before they reach the filter. This provides better protection for your personnel and your products, as well as extends the life of your HEPA filters.

When should I move to a dust containment system?

Dust containment systems are used in manufacturing operations that use highly toxic APIs. We recommend a dust containment system when APIs fall into occupational exposure band (OEB) 3 or higher.

What process equipment can a dust containment system be used with?

A dust containment system can be used with any tablet press, capsule filler, blistering machine, or other equipment used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. They’re also used as centralized vacuum systems serving multiple rooms at the same time where cleaning of equipment (machine parts, accessories, etc.) is carried out.

Should I use one HEPA filter or two?

Following the cyclone in a dust containment system, the air flows through a HEPA filter to catch the last 1% of dust and guarantee that no hazardous materials can contaminate the environment. While for many applications a single HEPA filter is sufficient, for highly toxic APIs, we recommend using two. The second filter, called the “police filter,” is a safeguard in case the main filter becomes compromised in any way.

Are the systems local or part of a centralized vacuum system?

A dust containment system can be either local or centralized. However, we recommend a local system for three primary reasons:

  • Local aspiration prevents product propagation and cross-contamination.
  • Maintenance work can be carried out in the production room.
  • Local systems use shorter pipelines/hoses, which are easier to clean.

How will I know the system will achieve the required performance?

The performance of every dust containment system should be validated by a third party. Make sure you receive a certificate verifying that the dust released by the unit under specified conditions doesn’t exceed your required occupational exposure limit (OEL).

What maintenance do the units require?

Because the cyclone is a filterless technology, very little maintenance is required. The unit can be washed in place (WIP) with sprayballs to deactivate dust on the inside surfaces. The HEPA filter uses a bag-in, bag-out system that prevents personnel from coming into contact with the contaminated filter and maintains a dust containment grade of OEB 5 (OEL < 1 μg/m3).

Can the units be used as part of a fully automated production line?

Yes! We work with many OEMs and end users to provide automated units that can be controlled from the process machine display panel. Learn more about why your dust containment system should be fully integrated into your process.

What information do I need to select the appropriate system?

Nilfisk’s dust containment systems are custom-built for your application. The most important piece of information you need is the OEL for your APIs. You’ll also need the specifications for the process machine the system will be used with so we can select the appropriate hose or pipeline to provide a secure connection.

To learn more about Nilfisk’s complete dust containment solutions, download the brochure or contact us. We’d be happy to discuss your specific application or answer any additional questions you might have.