International Standards Organization (ISO) Issues a New Standard for Air Filter Testing and Ratin

- Dec 01, 2017 -

International Standards Organization (ISO) Issues a New Standard for Air Filter Testing and Ratin

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created a new global standard, ISO16890, which defines the classification and testing procedures for air filters employed in general ventilation systems. In particular, ISO16890 refers to the air filtering element taking into account particles with a size comprised between 0,3 μm e 10 μm.Their official documentation to the public always refers to these PM levels. It is therefore logical that filter test methods and classifications follow this approach to demonstrate filtration performance towards the most harmful fine dusts.

The new standard, which will enter into force in August 2018, replaced the current European Standard EN 779 and the ASHRAE52.2, employed in the USA, with the aim of creating a unique global standard divided into 4 classes, based on the filter performance in connection with three different particle fractions, with a more targeted percentage that indicates the filter efficiency.

The main differences between Standard ISO16890 and current ones are the tests, which will become more stringent, with a consequent IAQ increase, and the fact that the finer dust classified – PM1 – is also the most dangerous for human health. High-efficiency filters will help improving the quality of the air we breathe.

Limited informative value of EN 779

The main criticism of classification ac-cording to EN 779 was its distance from reality. Under this standard, the effi-ciency of an air filter was assessed as an average over a charge of a synthetic laboratory dust called ASHRAE dust. However, this applied exclusively to the particle size 0.4 microns. In reality, filters are exposed to a much broader range of particle sizes. For this reason, data obtained in the laboratory had only a very limited value in terms of the actual performance of an air filter in a filter system.


As a result of the limited scope of EN 779 a filter could, for example, reach the standard required for F 7 average efficiency for 0.4 -micron particles, even if it had a low initial efficiency. If it captured an appropriate amount of dust, this loading caused a sharp rise in efficiency. In practice, however, this same filter would behave differently under normal operating conditions. Its efficiency would tend to remain con-stant during loading with atmospheric dust or even slightly decrease. For this reason, the new ISO standard evalu-ates the separation efficiency of a filter without dust loading in the laboratory.


Complete spectrum with ISO 16890

With the introduction of the new ISO 16890 standard, actual operating condi-tions will be more effectively taken into account. Instead of considering only the particle size 0.4 microns, as previously, a  broad range between 0.3 microns and 10 microns will be used to determine sepa-ration efficiencies for particulate matter fractions PM10, PM2,5 and PM1. In fu-ture, an air filter will be rated for exam-ple as ISO ePM10 80 %. In other words, it separates 80 % of PM10 particles. The “e” stands for efficiency, in combination with the particulate matter fraction, for example, ISO ePM10 describes the vari-able for the efficiency.

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