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3 Key Factors to Maintaining IAQ in Healthcare Facilities

Apr 10, 2024 | Public | 0 comments

Indoor air quality is critical to the operations and wellness of a healthcare facility.

From impacting the health of occupants to contributing to sustainability, indoor air quality (IAQ) has many impacts on healthcare facilities. Naturally then, maintaining that IAQ is crucial to the facility’s overall operations and wellness.

Here are three factors to pay attention to when maintaining IAQ.

1: HVAC systems

Unsurprisingly, the systems that manage air flow are critical to maintaining good IAQ levels. However, just having the healthcare facility’s HVAC systems running smoothly is not enough.

This is because the outdoor air can be home to volatile pollutants that can seep into unequipped HVAC systems and eventually the healthcare facility itself. That can even mean infectious pathogens, too. Fortunately, there is equipment that can be installed in HVAC systems to assist with filtering out harmful particulates from the incoming air.

There are two main types of equipment that can be used, according to Sumayyah Theron, project lead at the Illinois Chapter of ASHRAE. They are filtration and disinfection. Filters, such as MERV or HEPA filters, will weed out certain particulates and prevent them from getting any further. Meanwhile, disinfection technologies such as UV lighting can kill pathogens that manage to creep into the HVAC systems.

“If it is a major system, you actually have this equipment already in the ducts and some of them can be retrofitted,” says Theron. “So, you do have options where you can put this equipment in your duct to clean it before it reaches clear spaces.”

2: Finishing Materials

One of the most common things that contributes to poorer IAQ is finishing materials such as paints, sealants and adhesives. These typically are used on furniture, floors, carpets, wood and particle boards.

These finishing materials emit a lot of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are toxic to the health and wellbeing of occupants. Additionally, off gassing is introduced when these materials are at room temperature or exposed to sunlight, according to Theron.

“You must be choosing products that have some green certification or some environmental declaration on the product that will explain what chemicals went into the manufacturing of this specific component,” says Theron.

3: Sustainable practices

Maintaining IAQ requires sustainable practices to be put in place by the healthcare facility. One main way this can be done is through active air quality monitoring, as this can help keep track of IAQ and maintain it. Air quality sensors track parameters such as particulate matter, carbon dioxide, ozone, humidity and temperature. These sensors should also be placed away from sources of air pollutants, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This monitoring is important in healthcare settings, since they house vulnerable patients that may be indoors for extended periods of time.

“This is number one, especially after the pandemic because people started sitting indoors more and not really going outside,” says Theron. “Having healthy indoor air is as important as having good water quality or good food quality – like anything that is going in your body, you must know what chemicals are going in with it.”

In addition, for healthcare facilities pursuing any green building or wellness certifications, IAQ is a big component of it, says Theron. She adds that in the future, there could be indoor air monitoring requirements added to these certifications, so being ahead of the curve can be beneficial.

Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market. 

The post "3 Key Factors to Maintaining IAQ in Healthcare Facilities" appeared first on Healthcare Facilities Today

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