Air PollutionHospitals & Medical Facilities

Poor Hospital Air Quality for Patients and Employees

By January 23, 2017 No Comments
7 minutes to read

Hospital air quality that is compromised by pollutants can lead to patient infections and negatively affect hospital employees says hospital air filtration experts at Camfil

There is no overstating the importance of hospital air quality, because these facilities are supposed to be sterile and clean, enabling patients to recover from illnesses.

But hospitals that do not maintain an effective air filtration strategy may find that airborne contaminants become a health issue within a facility that is intended to protect people from getting sick.

With outdoor air pollution becoming worse every year, maintaining good indoor air quality at hospitals has become even more challenging but no less important.

Sources of Contamination

Multiple studies have shown that in addition to patient-borne illnesses and chemicals used to clean hospitals, one of the largest sources of airborne pollutants in a hospital is outside air.

In fact, research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that in many areas, indoor air quality is 10 times worse than the quality of outdoor air.

Vehicle exhaust and diesel fuel from generators designed to prevent power failures at hospitals are two of the biggest sources of indoor contaminants from outdoor pollution.

What makes the problem worse is that many urban hospitals which were built in the 1950s or before have not undergone the kind of upgrades in their ventilation systems that would mitigate the amount of bad outdoor air that circulates through the inside of a hospital.

Effect On Hospital Staff Productivity

And hospital air quality isn’t just an environmental problem; it has actual human costs as well.

A study by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) found that indoor air quality that was improved by effective ventilation reduced acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs) by 23 percent to 76 percent.

Furthermore, hospitals are already plagued by a number of airborne viruses, bacteria and contaminants, which results in a statistically higher number of ARIs than in occupations where these pollutants are not as concentrated.

Hospitals with poor or ineffective ventilation systems are at a higher risk of incubating illnesses caused by airborne contaminants, and these illnesses will have a debilitating effect on the productivity of hospital staff who will either have to work at reduced capacity, or miss work entirely due to respiratory illnesses.

Effect On the Health of Patients

Moreover, the level of pollutants may also affect patients at hospitals with poor air quality.

There’s an irony in the fact that doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, which states: “First do no harm.”

The irony is that doctors can’t even guarantee that their patients are safe in a hospital, which is the one place in the world that patients should feel that their health is being made better, not worse.

That’s the dilemma facing many hospitals that are wrestling with the issue of airborne contaminants.

Another irony is that some patients are the cause of these contaminants, making clean air solutions even more challenging.

Patients who suffer from diseases may be a source of contaminants that can settle on surfaces or clothing and become airborne, thus affecting other people in the facility.

But patients are also at the mercy of hospital cleaning staffs that often use high-grade chemicals to clean rooms and surfaces.

These chemicals may create toxic gases that become airborne and can affect the well-being of patients, especially those with compromised immune systems.

All of these air quality maladies can be mitigated through the proper selection of air filters that maintain required levels of hospital air quality and can significantly reduce hospital expenditures by reducing energy use.

About Camfil USA

Camfil’s commitment to energy savings is reflected in the design of its air filters that cut installation costs in half and also provide savings on hospital waste disposal services.

For nearly 50 years, Camfil has been an industry leader in medical facility air filtration, providing clean air solutions to hospitals and other health care facilities, and will continue to offer the most cutting-edge air filtration systems on the planet.


Lynne Laake l

Camfil USA Air Filters

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