What do you think of when you think about a hospital? Cleanliness? A sterile environment? Last time you had to visit your local A&E, did you consider the quality of air that you were breathing? The potential air borne illnesses that you or your loved ones could have been exposed to?
Hospitals, despite their best efforts, can be hotspots for poor IAQ, which can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of patients, staff, and visitors.
What causes poor air quality in hospital settings?
Several factors contribute to poor air quality in hospital and medical settings; particularly in A&E waiting rooms. These include:
- Inadequate ventilation systems
- Contamination from medical procedures and chemicals
- Air pollution from continuous use of cleaning agents and disinfectants
- Construction and renovation activities
- Limited air filtration
- High CO2 due to small spaces with lots of occupants
What are the dangers of poor air quality?
Of course, poor air quality in any environment can be impactful to your overall health and well-being. However, in hospital and wider medical settings, the affects are often much worse – with those affected often already suffering from pre-existing conditions and impairments that may only be worsened by polluted air and poor ventilation.
In a recent study, Imperial College London found that being frequently subjected to high levels of indoor air pollution increases the risk of numerous health conditions that range from migraines all the way to infertility.
Therefore, medical professionals and staff within these environments are amongst those who may suffer some of the most severe side effects of poorly ventilated environments.
How can you protect your staff, patients, and yourself from dangerously poor indoor air quality?
Reducing the impact of sub-standard air quality requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the root cause of pollution and takes steps to improve the air quality of a particular space.
Some of the things that you can do to strive towards cleaner indoor air are:
- Enhance ventilation – install ventilation systems or regulate and improve existing systems.
- Control sources of pollution – reduce chemical, biological and other pollutants in areas with high footfall to ensure that staff and patients are kept safe from harmful air pollutants.
- Monitor and test – implement regular monitoring and testing of indoor air quality parameters and set alerts to indicate spikes or dangerous levels.
- Educate and improve human behaviours – educate occupants of the space on the importance of IAQ and its impact on health. Provide guidance on how to report concerns about indoor air quality to facility management.
- Regular maintenance of HVAC systems – ensure that HVAC systems and other equipment are running efficiently with asset management devices/monitoring, so that they are not producing harmful chemicals or impacting filtration.
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