Just breathe

Inhale, exhale, repeat. Human beings breathe an average of more than 20,000 times each day. Filling our lungs with oxygen is our first act after being born – and we continue to do so until we take our proverbial last breath. The act of drawing in air is so innate to us that we rarely give it a second thought – that is, if we are lucky enough to be able to consume clean air. Because according to the World Health Organization (WHO), nine out of ten people worldwide breathe bad air.  

Unlike food, which many of us consciously choose, prepare and consume, our air intake happens unconsciously. Unless our environment is filled with smog, haze or dust, we rarely think about particles that enter our body as we inhale the air we need to live. Even if we did, putting an end to breathing is not something we can do – irrespective of the quality of the air. So, in springtime, we find ourselves inhaling pollen, during rush hour higher concentrations of particulate matter and fine dust. As allergy sufferers and residents of highly polluted metropolises know all too well, air quality can have severe repercussions on our health. According to IQAir, a platform offering free real-time air quality information, every year 7 million people die prematurely from air pollution. In addition to the human cost, the organization estimates the financial burden on the global economy at more than USD 2.9 trillion each year.

Clean air is vital for our survival, as a species and as a planet. That is why this year, the theme for the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies is “Health Air, Healthy Planet”. Ensuring the availability of clean air is a task that exceeds our capabilities as individuals. Across the world, nations, organizations and companies like Freudenberg are doing their part and airing new ideas and solutions to combat air pollution.

Stationary or on the road: Filters ensure clean air inside

At Freudenberg, the experts for clean air work at Freudenberg Filtration Technologies. What began in 1957 as a pure supplier of filter materials, today has become a global business with a presence in more than 20 countries and almost 3.000 employees. Whether in cars, buses, homes, hospitals or in industrial-scale food and beverage production, Freudenberg filters ensure that the surrounding air remains clean, effectively removing the threat posed by particulate matter and other fine particles.

In hospitals, for instance, Viledon filters assure high hygiene standards and help prevent the spread of airborne contaminants, microorganisms and non-pathogenic particles that could serve as bacteria hosts. The air in operating theaters or isolation rooms needs to be cleaner than clean. Each hospital has its unique demands, and our multistage Viledon filters are custom-designed to meet these. The required hourly air-change cycles, for example, vary according to the size of the room, the equipment it contains and the number of people using the area.

The multi-stage Viledon air filtration systems are also used in other demanding environments, from food and beverage production to industrial painting. While in the latter case even the smallest particles would compromise the painting result, in the former case even minimal impurities in the air could spoil an entire production batch – or worse: cause serious illnesses among consumers. “Food and beverage producers have to adhere to very strict regulations to avoid potential cross-contamination. Bacteria or fungi are a worst-case scenario, but even less ‘frightening sounding’ particles like allergens have to be effectively kept out of allergen-free production areas,” says Dr. Lena Schneider, Global Market Segment Manager Food & Beverage.  

But Freudenberg filters are not only used stationary. They are built into countless cars and buses and other means of transportation worldwide, protecting passengers from the invisible threats beyond the windshield and inside the vehicle. The cabin air filters of the micronAir proTect line – available in Europe and pending registration with the US EPA – offer drivers and passengers the best possible protection inside the vehicle. Next to filtering out pollutants such as fine dusts and smallest particles, odors and gases such as benzene or ozone or bacteria and allergens, they also contribute to reducing health risks associated with the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

Beyond ensuring clean air inside, the filtration experts are also actively working on solutions that will help reduce CO2 emissions, thereby doing their part for a healthy planet. Together with colleagues from other Freudenberg Business Groups – including sealing experts from Freudenberg Sealing Technologies and specialists in technical textiles working at Freudenberg Performance Materials – Freudenberg Filtration Technologies is driving solutions for new and clean mobility and looking beyond hybrid or battery solutions. With more than 20 years of Group-wide experience in fuel cell research, the Group is a pioneer in hydrogen-based mobility, offering a wide range of necessary components from filters and humidifiers to seals and gas diffusion layers.

With its diversified portfolio, technological prowess and a passion for innovations that make our world a better place, Freudenberg is doing its part to ensure that we can all breathe easy – today, tomorrow and in the years to come.