Reducing Air Pollutants from Hospitals to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Hospitals are amongst the top-priority infrastructures of any society. However, they are also amongst the indoor spaces most acutely affected by air pollution.
Poor air quality in hospitals increases the risk of infections in hospital visitors and puts staff health at risk. Regular indoor air quality checks in hospitals directly aid in not only the speedy recovery of patients but also in maintaining the health of the medical staff. Having an air quality monitor and air pollution control and management system in hospitals is vital to their smooth functioning.
Table of contents:
- Is the air we breathe indoors polluted?
- Hospital Air Quality and Public Health
- What does the research say about indoor air quality in hospitals?
- Maintaining indoor air quality in Hospitals
- Sustainability in Medical Facilities
- Research Study at Rajiv Gandhi Centre of Biotechnology
- How to buy an Indoor air purifier?
- How does Pure Skies work?
- Why is Pure Skies the best choice?
Is The Air We Breathe Indoors Polluted?
Yes, the air in indoor spaces is as polluted as, if not more than, outdoor air. The components of indoor air are particles such as dust mites, pollens, carbon fibers, pet dander, etc., and odors such as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from paints and varnishes, smoke, cooking odors, etc. We overlook the rudimentary inclusions at home that contribute the most to polluting indoor air quality.
Here are some facts to know about polluted indoor air:
- WHO attributes an annual 3.8 million deaths, or 4.1% of all global deaths, to indoor air pollution.
- The use of products such as inkjet printers, cleaning agents, etc. may cause dust allergies, asthma, and other respiratory disorders as they daily deteriorate the quality of the air we breathe around.
- The effects of indoor air pollution are so severe that they impact our productivity at work, children tend to feel lethargic within a period after being exposed to polluted air for long, which may lead to absenteeism and a greater impact on education can be observed perhaps.
- Poor maintenance and indoor air pollution are recognized as a cause of sick building syndrome (SBS), a condition that causes (often chronic) symptoms like irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
Indoor air pollution can cause a variety of health hazards, contrary to popular perception, indoor plants do not reduce the amount of particulate matter or PM in the air – the most dangerous pollutants.
Hospital Air Quality and Public Health
Since air quality in hospitals is often poorer than the air in other indoor spaces, this poses a major risk to its functioning. Apart from suffering the regular impacts of ambient air pollution and hospital admission, patients and visitors at hospitals are at a greater vulnerability to contracting nosocomial or Hospital Acquired Infections. Poor air quality in hospitals does not aid the recovery of patients
What does the research say about indoor air quality in hospitals?
Recent research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics states that coughs and sneezes have the potential to travel 200 times further than scientists had anticipated.
Most researchers agreed that the cluster of infectious pollutants in a cough could travel 200 feet, but another study states that a droplet 100 micrometers in diameter can potentially travel five times farther than prior anticipated, that a droplet 10 micrometers in diameter can travel 200 times farther, and that a droplet less than 50 micrometers in size can remain in the air long enough to reach the ceiling ventilation units.
The study was essential in terms of comprehending how airborne pollutants within hospitals compromise air quality and lead to a hazardous upsurge.
According to a study, the average level of bacteria (587 CFU/m3) and fungi (308 CFU/m3) found in all hospital rooms were generally polluted. The indoor bio-aerosol concentration measured during the winter season is usually significantly lower than that measured in spring.
Microbiological air quality is a significant criterion to provide a healthy environment. Early identification and mitigation of pollutants can prevent hazards. As the primary sources of airborne bio-aerosols in indoor air are building materials, heating, ventilation, people, and their activities, regular air-control measures are significant in reducing the dissemination of airborne biological particles in hospitals indoors.
Maintaining Indoor Air Quality in Hospitals:
To bring down the levels of Hospital Air Index (HAI) and enhance health in hospitals, mere cleaning and sanitizing are not enough.
These are some of the primary steps to take to reduce the HAI levels:
- Managing the levels of humidity inside the hospital wards and ensuring proper ventilation can help bring the indoor air pollution levels down significantly.
- Active measures to control air pollution such as early identification of pollutants inside hospital premises and reduction in the usage of PVCs must be implemented.
- Maintenance of cooling towers can prevent the major emission of harmful water vapor in the indoor air. These cooling towers supply water for the central air conditioning system in the hospital and can serve as a common culprit for an upsurge of diseases.
This will not only enhance air quality and secure health at crowded hospitals while ensuring the health of the hospital’s employees is safeguarded.
Sustainability in Medical Facilities:
According to sustainable design criteria, the designers should undertake overall design consideration of IAQ to the grave process with the function of spaces, finishes and furnishings, building equipment, occupants, and occupant activities, and maintenance in buildings.
This process consists of three phases: before usage, usage, and after usage.
Before Usage Phase:
One of the major causes of indoor air quality (IAQ) problems is the pre-occupancy of buildings before the usage phase. Buildings are occupied before construction is complete, related to the installation of finishes and furnishings, or testing and adjusting of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems of the building.
The indoor air quality problems which may occur during the curing of new products and the verification of a properly functioning ventilation system should be avoided. The building designers must document the operating procedures by preparing operational schedules about the use of the building for the operators of the building in the usage phase. These schedules must be adequate not only to control thermal conditions but also to remove pollutants accumulated during the usage of the building.
After Usage Phase:
Maintaining indoor air quality in hospitals is linked with the design of the building, and maintenance. Neglected or deferred maintenance is often the source of indoor air quality problems. Maintenance consists of inspection, repair, and cleaning processes. The building design should provide access to all components of HVAC systems for these processes. Cleaning of surfaces, mainly periodic control of accumulated dust from concealed surfaces above a suspended ceiling is essential. To remove the accumulated emissions, the maintenance involves the application of chemicals such as cleansers, waxes, disinfectants, air fresheners, adhesives, drain cleaners, vacuuming, paints and coatings, solvents, pesticides, or lubricants. Vertical fabric-covered surfaces such as walls or panels should be cleaned since small, concentrating dust particles deposit as easily on vertical as on horizontal surfaces.
Construction dust, fumes, and vapors must be contained and not allowed to contaminate building surfaces or the air in occupied spaces during construction after the usage phase. Temporary ventilation and isolation barriers should be employed. It is also essential to take care to avoid contamination of occupied spaces or of surfaces that will remain in use or be reused during demolition when buildings or portions of buildings will be demounted and replaced.
Research Study at Rajiv Gandhi Center of Biotechnology:
Research was conducted at the Rajiv Gandhi Center of Biotechnology, Kerala, to determine the inhibition of airborne viruses by our disruptive air pollution control technology, Pure Skies.
Pure Skies was placed in a quarantined room of 100 sq meters. The room was exposed to virus spray amounting to a viral load of SARS CoV 2. Pure Skies was kept on for 8 hours and samples were recorded at intervals of 1 hour. The procedure was performed in triplicates and the average viral reduction was recorded.
It was observed that our pulsed radio wave-based clean air technology, Pure Skies recorded a viral reduction of 61% in the quarantined room. No viral envelop destruction was observed even after 8 hours of exposure proving no ill effects such as cellular damage or DNA/RNA damage.
Air purifiers have become a necessity to control indoor air pollution. The harmful effects of particulate air pollutants in hospitals may compel one to search for a device or technology that suits the best indoor areas especially critical indoor areas such as the medical facility to ensure safe treatment and speedy recovery for patients. There are several types of indoor air pollution control technologies available in the market. The technologies are divided into standalone air purifiers, H-VAC systems, activated carbon air purifiers, and the latest technology; facility-wide air cleaners.
Facility-wide air cleaners are hassle-free, and come with the advantage of zero maintenance and work on the principle of Wi-Fi spectrum that has no proven ill effects on human health. Pure Skies by Devic Earth is a facility-wide air cleaner that does just the same and has shown significant proven results over the years.
How does Pure Skies work?
Pure Skies, a product of a decade of research, is based on pulsed radio wave air pollution control technology that addresses large areas, cleaning ambient air pollution including fugitive emissions. Pure Skies reduces air pollution by removing pollutants such as PM2.5, and PM10 from the air.
Pure Skies is a flagship technology that uses pulsed radio waves to be spread across the area to be covered, via base stations and extender units of Pure Skies. This operates in the normal Wi-Fi signal range and is completely safe. Our unique technology arrests particulate matter, PM2.5, and PM10 in the air making them heavy and sink to the ground. Pure Skies only accelerates the natural process of dry deposition, whereby minute particles of dust settle in the ground.
Why is Pure Skies the best choice?
- It covers extremely large areas.
- It is affordable.
- Unlike most other air cleaners, Pure Skies does not require maintenance.
- It leads to improved productivity and profitability.
- Monitor air quality in real-time.
- Low power consumption.
The hassle-free and easy-to-use technology is backed by an online dashboard to visualize improvement in air quality.
Do you wish to improve air quality on your premises with smart and low-cost technology?
(This article is Co-authored & conceptualized by Shashank Aggarwal, Priya Singh, Kiran Shinde and Ammu Prameela)
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