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How Technology Can Improve Air Quality in Hospital Common Areas

The indoor air is complex and dynamic which includes physical factors, biological and chemical contaminants which are generated in both outdoor and indoor environments. The complex hospital environment requires special attention to ensure healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) to protect patients and healthcare workers and visitors against hospital-acquired infections and occupational diseases

Managing air quality in hospitals can be challenging due to the wide range of pollutants — like pathogens, chemical compounds, and dust — that HVAC systems need to handle.

Healthy indoor conditions in hospitals currently are largely focused around stopping the spread of COVID-19, but research has revealed the possible effect of healthy environments is eminent, a lot larger than just avoiding the pandemic.

Many types of research have shed light that, there is a significant link between indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and individuals' health and productivity. Poor air quality and bad indoor ventilation can cause acute respiratory illness (ARIs), trigger asthma symptoms and even lead to chronic conditions, like Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).

Patients and staff health along with critical equipment must be shielded from harmful substances that can interfere with their function.

Patients and staff health along with critical equipment must be shielded from harmful substances that can interfere with their function.

This correlation between health and air quality is particularly crucial in hospitals, where huge numbers of patients visit, who can be particularly susceptible to diseases. When the patients are admitted they are housed in close quarters. Nurses and other hospital staff are also at a high risk of developing respiratory infections, owing to the intensified levels of pollutants and pathogens. Poor ventilation can make these problems worse.

The microbes can transmit through the air via infectious aerosols created by patients' coughing or sneezing. The microbes typically get attached to Particulate matter like PM1 and PM2.5. If air ventilation systems do not capture these aerosols, the infection can spread rapidly, affecting patients, hospital visitors and, eventually, healthcare workers. Following indoor air quality standards — like ASHRAE guidelines can ensure hospitals have the right air quality ventilation in place. Specific practices, like regularly changing filters, also can provide a safe indoor environment. But safe procedures and HVAC systems designed to follow industry standards alone may not capture all air pollutants. For some hospitals, upgrading the air purification systems of common areas may be necessary to ensure everyone stays healthy.

Clairco can help in mitigating these risks with its end-to-end air quality management solutions which includes air quality monitoring, high-efficiency PM1 and PM2.5 filtration and UVGI systems in AHUs.

It is important to view the return air and filtration system as a removal method of space generated contaminants - and not the air distribution side as a pathogen source, with the possible exception of some very smaller viral particles. The application of UV-C in the air handling equipment is extremely effective. ASHRAE recommends UV-C lighting to be installed downstream of the cooling coil; so if a 360 degree UV-C system is installed there, it will disinfect both the coil and the filter to destroy all microbes in and upon both devices.

IAQ is an important component of any building, and it is vital for a hospital or health care facility. Proper consideration must be taken to ensure that clean, fresh air is brought into the building, that the air is maintained within specific parameters for temperature and humidity, and that the air is not allowed to contaminate other spaces as it is routed back through the system. Clairco can also help in optimizing fresh air intake through demand control ventilation.

Improved IAQ is a workable goal for the overall enhancement in building occupant satisfaction at hospitals and other health care facilities.

In a nutshell, the benefits of Better IAQ in Hospital common areas are the following:

• Enhancement in patients’ recovery process

• Reduction in the length of hospital stay.

• Lesser medical errors and reduction in infection rates

• Increased productivity and general wellbeing

• Minimized hospital-acquired infections.

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