What is a Point-of-Use Water Filter?
Point-of-use (POU) water filters are designed to reduce or remove waterborne contaminants, including pathogens, right at the end of the water system at the faucet or shower. As water flows through the POU filter, the filtration technology retains harmful pathogens, which ultimately improves water quality. The filters are especially valuable in healthcare settings, particularly when patients may be immunocompromised. Studies show these filters can reduce infections and healthcare costs by preventing waterborne pathogens from reaching the patient.
A POU water filter should be microbially-rated (log-reduction of bacteria) or be sterilizing-grade (absolute retention of bacteria). This means the POU filter should be tested to the current active ASTM Standard F838, which requires challenging the filter with a specified concentration of a very small bacteria to determine how well the filter retains the organism. Typically, POU water filters are rated at 0.2 microns or smaller. However, when evaluating a POU filter, be sure to consider both micron size and the results of the ASTM F838 test, because not all filters are created equally, even at the same micron size.
How Are Point-Of-Use Filters Used?
POU water filters can be used proactively for patient protection and reactively when responding to a waterborne challenge, positive waterborne pathogen samples, or an outbreak. In the United States, they should be considered when producing and updating water management plans that meet ASHRAE 188 and CMS Memo 17-30-Hospitals/CAHs/NHs guidelines. In fact, as of March 2020, point-of-use filters are a suggested control measure according to ASHRAE 12-2020.
If a POU filter is an FDA 510(k) Class II Medical Device, then it must be used according to its instructions for use. The requirements for use of POU filters vary widely across manufacturers, so ensure these are being followed to eliminate unnecessary liability and risk.
Where are Point-Of-Use Water Filters Used?
Patients may be exposed to waterborne pathogens in many ways. For example, inhalation or aspiration of water droplets, contamination of equipment with tap water, or hands washed in contaminated tap water all can increase the risk of infection.
If used during an outbreak, POU water filters would typically be installed on all fixtures in the impacted area. This allows patients and staff to continue to use the water at greatly reduced risk.
According to ASHRAE 12-2020, Point-of-use and inline filters are often used to provide a temporary pathogen barrier but may also be used to provide a long-term pathogen barrier…Facilities with areas designated for treating or housing persons considered at-risk for Legionnaires’ disease, such as those receiving treatment for burns or receiving chemotherapy for cancer; those receiving treatment associated with solid organ or bone marrow transplantation; those with underlying diseases, such as cancer, renal disease, diabetes, and chronic lung disease; those taking drugs that weaken the immune system; those otherwise immunocompromised; the elderly; and smokers.
Point-Of-Use Filter History
Pall created the first disposable POU water filter 20 years ago to address the problem of waterborne pathogens. Since then, these filters continue to be improved with longer life and validated with additional organisms.
1 Return on Investment with Pall Point-of-Use Water Filtration. Literature Ref.20709.1WUS
2 Potable Water Systems in Healthcare Facilities. Literature Ref.160725.1WUS
3 ASHRAE Guideline 12-2020: Managing the Risk of Legionellosis Associated with Building Water Systems. ASHRAE. 2020: 16-17
written by Marissa Khoukaz - Business Development Manager— Hospital Water
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