Types of indoor air quality problems
CCOHS suggests that there are multiple indoor air quality problems:
- Physical properties – examples include inadequate temperature, humidity, changes in oxygen and CO2 content.
- Contaminants – for instance, chemicals, dust or particles, mold or fungi, bacteria, gases, toxic vapors and unpleasant odors.
This article focuses on air contaminants. Here is a more detailed list of what you and your staff and patients could be breathing:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2), tobacco smoke, perfume, body odors;
- Dust, fiberglass, asbestos and toxic gases including formaldehyde from building materials;
- Toxic vapors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – from cleaning products, solvents, pesticides, paints, carpets, disinfectants and glues;
- Dust mites – from carpets, fabric and foam chair cushions;
- Viruses, fungi, molds and bacteria from damp areas, stagnant water and condensate pans;
- Ozone from photocopiers, electric motors and electrostatic air cleaners.
If the air in your building contains any of the above, then you, your staff and patients are at serious health risk. Therefore, let us discuss 3 of the above contaminants in more detail and review some ways of lessening the problem.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) cautions us that COVID-19 “can remain airborne for longer times and further distances than originally thought.” Also, the agency tells us that “spread of COVID-19 may also occur via airborne particles in indoor environments, in some circumstances beyond the 2 m (about 6 ft) range encouraged by some social distancing recommendations.”
EPA then goes on to suggest the measures of dealing with the Coronavirus threat. It recommends “increasing ventilation with outdoor air and air filtration as important components of a larger strategy that includes social distancing, wearing cloth face coverings or masks, surface cleaning and disinfecting, handwashing, and other precautions.”
As a medical establishment operator, the last thing you want to do is to put the patients in your waiting areas at risk of transmitting or contracting COVID-19. It then stands to reason that protecting yourself, your associates and your staff is also vital. A COVID-19 outbreak traced back to your facility could carry enormous negative consequences, including lawsuits and heightened regulatory scrutiny.
Even in Bermuda, where we have lower COVID-19 rates than many other countries, prudent risk management makes a great deal of sense. Of note, a recent study found that Consider air filtration as a critical adjunct measure to ventilation, social distancing and wearing masks. Professional-grade air filters can effectively trap COVID-19 particles, removing them from the air and lessening the risk of infection for everyone within a given space.
Oransi Mod Air Purifier
2. Foreign particles and microorganisms
Pure air is free or nearly free of foreign particles. Unfortunately, too often we breathe in the following contaminants with out air:
- Dust that can cause chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function
- Dust mites that can cause allergic rhinitis and asthma
- Fiberglass that can cause lung damage and even cancer
- Asbestos that causes mesothelioma
- Viruses (other than COVID-19) that can cause a variety of diseases
- Fungi and molds that can cause allergies, irritation and lung problems
- Bacteria that can cause pneumonia
Your patients will quickly associate their symptoms with your location, if your facility is indeed to blame. Then, it will not be long before they stop showing up. It appears likely that your staff will not stay much longer than your patients. Why take the risk? A professional grade air purifier can remove most of the above contaminants from the air you breathe.
3. Toxic vapors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Volatile organic compounds evaporate easily, hence the name “volatile.” This means that even a small spill can result in large amounts of these compounds permeating the air. VOCs are usually human-made chemicals that are used in the making of paints, drugs and refrigerants. Examples include industrial solvents, components of petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry cleaning agents.
VOCs are known to cause serious negative health effects, such as:
Negative health effects of VOC inhalation may include:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
- Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
As a purveyor of health and medical care, you simply do not want to expose your staff and visitors to these risks, so here is what to do. Ordinary filters, even HEPA filters, cannot remove VOCs from the air. Filters capable of adsorption, such as those using activated charcoal, are necessary to effectively cleanse the air of VOCs.
How to make the air safe to breathe again
First, monitor the air quality in your building. You cannot manage what you cannot measure, so identify the extent of the problem first.
You can invite a professional to check your air quality. You can also install an air quality indicator like this:
Indoor air quality wall monitor
If the air quality at your facility is less than optimal, you have several options to correct the issue. An air filter will help purify the air in your building. Technologies are also available to improve ventilation as well as maintain comfortable temperature and humidity.
And finally, this is what Lighthouse Medical can do for you:
- Recommend, supply, maintain, test and repair medical and other equipment
- Supply, maintain and restock medical consumables, including everything mentioned in this article
- Design and help implement checklist-based procedures
- Provide training, monitoring and quality assurance
Give us a call today at 747-5483 or write to CONTACT@LHMEDS.COM