Hospitals and medical facilities harbor many harmful pollutants.

Facility managers in hospitals and medical facilities are faced with the daunting task of protecting both patients and staff from airborne pollutants that are known to cause health concerns as well as worsen existing conditions.

Facility managers must meet air quality limits in order to stay in compliance with government regulations.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the ambient air in hospitals is filled with chemicals like glutaraldehyde (used for equipment sterilization), diethyl ether (anesthetic gas), formaldehyde (used to preserve tissue) and of course biological agents.  Even more toxic chemicals can be added to that list if there are ongoing construction and renovation projects and out-gassing of building materials.

Mold – a serious health concern in hospitals

Inhaled fungi causes a stir in hospitals.  According to Disease Control and Prevention centers, an estimated 2 million people contract infections in the hospital while they have been admitted for entirely different ailments.  Frightfully, of these 2 million people, 100,000 die as a result.

Chemical exposure a concern in the healthcare environment

For hospital employees, chemical exposure is common.  Vapor and gases that can have both short and long-term effects on health are ubiquitous in hospital air.

A short list of these chemicals include:

  • Xylene
  • Glutaraldehyde
  • Halothane
  • Formaldehyde
  • Mercury
  • Acrylamide
  • Methyl methacrylate
  • Ribavirin
  • Nitrous Oxide and volatile anesthetics
  • Toluene
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Benzene
  • Ammonia
  • Phthalates

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), exposure to waste anesthetic gases can cause a slew of negative health effects; for example:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Disorientation
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease

These gases are able to escape during procedures, and many studies link waste anesthetic gas exposure to miscarriages, cancer, genetic damage and birth defects. The harrowing effect of these volatile chemicals extends to the spouses of hospital workers, with reports of higher incidences of miscarriage and birth defects.

In addition, hospital workers deal with hazardous drugs designed for cancer and other diseases, for example chemotherapy and antiviral medication. These toxic drugs pose the threat of infertility, leukemia and other forms of cancer.

Where are hazardous pollutants lurking in hospitals?

According to OSHA, everywhere.  Hospital pharmacies, laboratories, operating rooms, radiation and x-ray areas, as well as morgues, have high concentrations of hazardous airborne pollutants.

I-6500: Superior air cleaning for biological contaminants, particles and smoke

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