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Enhancing Air Quality in and around Healthcare Facilities

Enhancing Air Quality in and around Healthcare Facilities

When we think of air pollution, our mental image often involves manufacturing plants emitting black smoke, but those harmful gases are not limited to industrial parks alone. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor spaces can harbor significantly higher levels of air pollutants — two to five times more, and occasionally a staggering 100 times more — than what we encounter outdoors. Dust, allergens, formaldehyde, fire retardants, and radon are just a few unwelcome guests in the indoor air party.

Given that healthcare facilities cater to patients with susceptibility to infections (especially children, the elderly, and those with asthma and allergies) and other issues related to air contaminants, prioritizing air quality has been placed at the top of the to-do list for hospital maintenance directors. Enhancing indoor and outdoor air quality through improved cleaning practices and equipment not only benefits patients and employees but also enhances the overall experience for facility visitors.

Current issues with air quality in healthcare

  1. Indoor air pollution

Healthcare facilities are prone to indoor air pollution due to various factors such as using certain medical equipment, cleaning chemicals, and inadequate ventilation. As forementioned, poor indoor air quality can lead to respiratory issues and exacerbate existing health conditions among patients.

  1. Outdoor air quality

The location of healthcare facilities can expose them to outdoor air pollution, especially in urban areas. Plus, all healthcare systems have backup generators that run on diesel engines, which emit harmful black matter particles into the air. Moreover, the ingress of pollutants from vehicular emissions and industrial activities can compromise the overall air quality within healthcare settings.

  1. Infection control

Infection prevention is a large aspect of healthcare, and air quality plays a significant role in controlling the spread of airborne infections. Contaminated air can contribute to healthcare-associated infections, posing risks to both patients and healthcare workers.

  1. Cleaning products

Certain cleaning products, such as those containing ammonia, paints and floor finishes, pack a punch of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Even the fragrances and scents commonly found in conventional cleaning chemicals bring a whiff of volatile chemicals.

  1. Allergens and asthma triggers

Hospitals may harbor allergens and asthma triggers, affecting individuals with respiratory conditions. Dust mites, mold and pollutants can worsen symptoms for patients and hinder the recovery process.

Clearing the air: how hospitals can improve well-being

It is high time the air is cleared for the well-being of everyone under the roof. Here are some steps hospitals can implement to do just that.

  1. Install active diesel particulate filters (DPFs)

Active DPFs are effective in reducing emissions from diesel engines, a common source of air pollution in healthcare settings. Installing these filters on hospital generator systems and other diesel-powered equipment can significantly decrease the release of harmful particulate matter.

Rypos active DPFs reduce harmful emissions by trapping and eliminating harmful particulates and converting carbon monoxide and other hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water. These filters can also be configured with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to achieve NOx reductions of 95% or more.

  1. Improve ventilation systems

Upgrading ventilation systems is essential to ensure a continuous supply of clean air. Implementing high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can help capture airborne particles and improve overall air quality.

  1. Incorporate green building practices

Integrating green building practices, such as incorporating plants and using eco-friendly construction materials, can contribute to a healthier indoor environment. Plants act as natural air purifiers, removing toxins and enhancing overall air quality.

  1. Implement regular maintenance and cleaning protocols

Establishing routine maintenance and cleaning protocols for HVAC systems, air ducts and medical equipment is crucial. This helps prevent the buildup of pollutants and ensures that air circulation remains optimal.

Enhancing air quality in healthcare is imperative for the well-being of both patients and healthcare professionals. Addressing indoor and outdoor air pollution through improved ventilation, green building practices and the integration of active diesel particulate filters can create a healthier environment within healthcare facilities. By implementing these solutions, healthcare systems can contribute to better patient outcomes and provide a safer working environment for their staff.

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