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HVAC and its role in preventing infections in Intensive Care Units

Apart from the role HVAC plays in creating a comfortable and safe environment for ICU patients and staff, HVAC also plays a crucial role in determining infection rates.

The essential function of HVAC is to heat and cool air, humidify, and dehumidify air as well as filter and distribute air.

All of the above functions result in an overall conditioning of air, which helps prevent contamination and cross-contamination from occurring.

It is vital that the quality of indoor air is always maintained as to prevent possible hospital-acquired infections.

HVAC ICU Infection Rates

The Medical Importance of HVAC Systems

Poorly functioning HVAC systems have been directly linked to airborne diseases. This includes poor air distribution and filtration, fluctuating air temperatures, and failing humidity control.

There are several factors that contribute to the transmission of airborne diseases:

  • Compromised immune systems (host risk factors)
  • Architectural design of disease
  • Particle characteristics
    • Droplet size
    • Type
    • Life span
  • Distance travelled
  • And surrounding environment

The aim of an air handling system is to manage the spread of airborne and droplet-borne diseases and assist in their removal from the system.

This is done in two ways – by either removing the pathogen from the system using exhaust ventilation or by diluting the pathogen using dilution ventilation.

However, when a HVAC is poorly designed or not properly maintained it becomes a continuous source of contamination.

Moulds and fungi typically found in damp and wet surfaces such as humidifiers, condensate pans and filters, and cooling coils are an example of such contamination issues.

Additionally, poorly designed and maintained HVACs in ICU environments can catalyse “sick building syndrome” (SBS) affecting staff members with symptoms such as suffocation, headaches, itchy skin, sore eyes, and wheezing.

HVAC Systems Designed by Air Options

Air Options’ air handling systems are designed with the environment, clinician and patient’s needs in mind. Our HVAC systems work efficiently by adjusting their various components such as heating, cooling, air filtration and distribution, air flow rate as well as their air exchange rates.

Our systems control Indoor Air Quality by measuring temperature, CO2 concentration, humidity, and airflow rates – and correcting according to the work environment.

Air Options is proud to service the medical industry by providing high-quality HVAC systems for hospitals and other medical facilities.

We design, manufacture, and install HVAC systems according to each facility’s specific features and requirements to ensure that the best quality of air and temperature control is achieved.

Additionally, we provide maintenance services – ensuring the installed HVAC system is always working effectively and efficiently.

Contact us for more information.

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