Choosing the Best HVAC for Pharmaceutical Laboratory

Pharmaceuticals play an extraordinary role in people’s everyday lives. But producing transformative products can be a costly and energy-intensive business, and reducing costs without compromising personnel or materials can present unique challenges.

HVAC systems are a prime site for realizing these benefits; depending on the specific measures taken, improved HVAC functionality can reduce energy use by 40% or more even in environments with strict air quality requirements. Integrating analytics with your building management system (BMS) and developing a smart automation strategy allows HVAC systems in the pharmaceutical industry to efficiently control climate while maintaining safety. 

Importance of HVAC Systems in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceutical companies employ specialized ventilation systems that moderate humidity and temperature levels to maintain the stringent environmental conditions necessary to manufacture their products. Even in office buildings and research laboratories, the HVAC systems in pharmaceutical settings must also keep the environment exceedingly clean. Meeting these objectives is essential to protecting the health of workers, consumers, and the environment. 

To ensure pharmaceutical products are effective, safe, and unadulterated, regulatory bodies around the world have established environmental guidelines that typically include:

  • Room temperatures between approximately 67-77° F (19-25° C) to maintain a comfortable work environment for pharmaceutical workers, with a control point of 72° F (about 22° C) and lower temperature ranges for spaces where people are required to wear gowns or other heavy protective equipment. 
  • Relative humidity in production areas should remain between 45-55%, or between 25-35% for hygroscopic powder production, to maintain worker comfort, control microbial growth, prevent corrosion, and reduce the chance of generating static electricity.
  • Control of airborne particulates to ensure good air quality and counteracts potential product contamination through the use of proper air filtration.

However, maintaining safety in some pharmaceutical environments requires special consideration and adherence to more extensive standards.

HVAC Systems in Pharmaceutical Cleanrooms

Contamination from externally generated particles is a significant concern in pharmaceutical production, especially in cleanrooms. As such, HVAC equipment in cleanrooms must filter air properly, with air change rates depending on whether the areas require sterilization, and can vary between 6-20 air changes per hour. 

The hourly rate at which air should be replaced depends on the following:

  • Adequate air supply to clean and contain air in an area.
  • Product characteristics, such as hygroscopic substances that absorb moisture from the air.
  • Required room pressure.
  • Particulates produced by lab or factory workers. 
  • Particulates generated by the manufacturing process.
  • Quality of the filtration system.
  • Sufficient air to balance out air extraction rates.
  • The room’s configuration, location, and air supply.
  • The impact of heat generated during manufacturing.

HVAC Systems in Pharmaceutical Industry Medical Labs

Laboratory environments also have unique HVAC requirements. The primary functions of HVAC systems in pharmaceutical labs include:

  • Ensuring comfortable conditions for lab personnel.
  • Filtering out contaminated air before discharging it back into the environment.
  • Keeping proper room pressure for both negative and positive pressure spaces within labs in order to direct airflow from clean to dirty spaces, thus protecting experiments and personnel.
  • Maintaining air quality, humidity, and temperature to safeguard the integrity of experiments.
  • Pumping outdoor air into laboratory spaces as a safety requirement for workers, especially for labs working with hazardous substances. 

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