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Feb 02, 2023

Three things the pandemic taught us about indoor air quality

It is not difficult to understand that we feel better when the indoor climate is healthy and adapted to us and our ongoing activities. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of what happens when we are admitted to a hospital and need the best protection from airborne threats. 

Unfortunately, there are major problems at many medical centers. In a recent study1, researchers found that everyone inside a 4-bed bay was at risk for respiratory exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Even though standard infection control measures require beds to be >2 m (6 ft) apart the researchers’ findings suggest that this may be insufficient to stop SARS-CoV-2 transmission. 

With new buildings, single rooms are becoming standard to avoid cross-transmission of harmful pathogens between patients. Where patients share rooms, the ventilation needs to be very effective at removing airborne microbial contamination while maintaining a comfortable environment for the patients.

Another newly published study2 shows that inhalation of SARS-CoV-2 by patients may be possible if there is an unrecognized COVID-19 case in the same room. Virus was detected in a room where a patient with a moderate viral load was not wearing a surgical mask when sampling was conducted over an 8-hour period.  Virus was also detected in an 8-hour sample with a patient who was wearing a surgical mask. Surgical masks on patients are indeed not a panacea! Older ventilation systems can also contribute to transmission. Facilities should consider updating high risk departments with modern ventilation solutions that have been specifically designed to provide greater protection against airborne hazards.

Even with the best ventilation system installed, it is crucial that the equipment works as intended, in terms of operational parameters and that it is properly maintained, cleaned and serviced3.

Additionally, facilities should know their ventilation systems are working properly 24/7. Innovative concepts and tools, like the Opragon Online control system, ensures the effectiveness of the advanced Opragon ultra-clean ventilation system and helps to ensure that the system is served at optimal intervals. This and other online tools help to inform engineering teams about any deficiencies in the building´s indoor climate, to ensure a safe environment for both patients and staff. 

To learn more about how we can help you design a medical facility with improved indoor air quality, please contact us today.