Medical and technological advances need a constant evaluation of the HVAC system. HVAC monitoring systems in hospitals and medical facilities play a significant role. It paves the way for the 2019 ASHRAE Handbook and healthcare occupancy that ensures the HVAC system’s future adaptability.
The HVAC application to health care facilities can affect specific clinical outcomes. HVAC systems in health care facilities play an essential role beyond providing comfort.
Proper air conditioning improves the healing environment for a patient. It provides adequate ventilation requirements to protect against harmful occupational exposures to shorten the patient’s stay in a hospital. Thus, it helps to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections.
The Regulations and Resources
The ASHRAE Standard 170 was designed as a standard for health care facilities. It sets the guidelines for space design temperatures, air quality, humidity, and so on.
Standard guides the hospital, outpatient health care, residential health, care, and support facilities. These things apply the necessary HVAC requirements to the planning, construction, and operation.
The ASHRAE Standard 90.1 and the Advanced Energy Design Guides ensure sustainability. It serves as a guide in providing efficient and cheap energy management. It reduces energy consumption in hospital facilities. And it ensures proper HVAC design to improve the air quality in hospital facilities.
The ASHRAE Standard 189.3 focuses on design, construction, and operation. It ensures building high-performance and green health care facilities.
The guidelines are critical in having efficient operation precautions. It aims to reduce the chances of heat exchangers. The heat exchangers can be a source of contaminants in the indoor air supply stream.
Health care facilities need intensive energy and are dependent on power. Thus, this facility must have sustainable and cost-effective energy measures. Yet, it should not go beyond the function of the HVAC in hospital facilities. These function includes promoting the healing of its patients.
Air Quality in Hospital Facilities
The HVAC system in the hospital facilities is complex. It is much different from the HVAC systems in other buildings or enterprises. Hospitals need different indoor air environments between departments.
There is a need to restrict air movement in different rooms. There are specific ventilation and filtration requirements in every room. Differences in temperatures and humidity must have proper attention. Sophisticated HVAC design ensures accurate control of environmental conditions.
The Infection Sources
The ASHRAE standard ensures a proper measure for outdoor air. The ventilation system must control the spread of airborne infectious agents. It must remove pathogens from hospital environments. There are a lot of infection sources from the untreated outdoor air environment.
Many bacteria are infectious and transported in air and water mixture. These bacteria may weigh 5um or less in size and may remain airborne indefinitely. These bacteria only wait for their host so they could enter the body and get infected.
One of these bacteria is the Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Legionella pneumophila. It brought the Legionnaires’ disease or the Pontiac fever. It spreads in contaminated droplets small enough for people to breathe in. The elderly, smokers, and immunocompromised people are usually more susceptible to this disease.
Many airborne viruses are submicron in size and transmit infection. It transports virulent by the air and is often attached to larger aerosols or a conglomerate of many viruses which can be easily breathed in by patients.
Molds are sources of odorous volatile organic compounds in the indoor air. It can produce microscopic airborne particles that contain allergens and chemicals. It increases the number of house dust mites and can trigger allergies. It improves the emission rates of gaseous non-microbial substances such as formaldehyde.
Molds mainly affect the respiratory system. It leads to asthma exacerbation, cough, wheeze, upper respiratory symptoms. It can lead to shortness of breath, respiratory infections, and bronchitis. It can also allergic rhinitis and eczema.
Worst, molds are fatal to patients with advanced leukemia and bone marrow transplant. It even targets those with other immunocompromised health conditions.
Another infection sources affecting the air quality in hospital facilities are chemicals.
Chemicals included are
- carbon monoxide
- nitrogen oxides
- ground-level ozone
- particulate matter
- sulfur oxides
- carbon Disulfide
- Aromatic Hydrocarbons
- Synthetic Vitreous Fibers
- Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons.
These are all toxic chemicals and are found in disinfectants for workers. Thus, there is a need for control measures to ensure the safety of patients and health workers.
Outdoor Air Ventilation
Proper design of outdoor air ventilation dilutes indoor viral and bacterial contamination. The ventilation system must be well designed, constructed, and maintained. It should preserve pressure relations to control the between-area spread of airborne infections.
Filtration and Air Filter
The standard recommends the use of HEPA and ULPA filters in hospitals’ HVAC. It must have 99.97% filtering efficiencies. Most of the time, HEPA and ULPA filters are designed to work together. It cleans the indoor air and removes the viable particles. IT holds the pathogens and eliminates that into the exhaust. The HVAC systems should include the life cycle cost and efficiency in handling and space.
The pressure differential is significant. It prevents the dispersal of contaminants between adjoining spaces.
Hospitals are using negative pressure differential in isolation rooms. It is well-sealed and prevents excess air leakage. It ensures the containment of infectious pathogens.
Pressure differential also releases contagious pathogens through the exhaust system. It is placed as far away from intakes and public areas.
Anterooms are small rooms before entering a larger room. It is in-between areas of contamination and treatment. It is a sealed space with air filtration, appropriate ventilation, and pressure relationships. It aims to remove harmful particles from the air to prevent the spread of diseases.
Contaminant Source Control
Contaminants source control is installing exhausted enclosures. These are biological safety cabinets, chemical fume hoods, benchtop enclosures. The physical location should control dispersal within the room.
Temperature and Humidity
Temperature and humidity must provide comfort as well as infection control—energy usage in improving the humidity requirements and operational and maintenance challenges. Energy usage must compliment the design. Beyond that, it must have appropriate temperature and humidity in hospital rooms.
Ultraviolet Light, Ionization and Chemicals
Ultraviolet energy is necessary for infection control measures. But, ionization and chemical fogging are only allowed in terminal cleaning applications. Hospitals follow the current guidelines. This is from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the CDC (2005) and N.I.O.S.H (2009).
Increasing Air Changes
Air changes can reduce the room’s airborne pathogens. The increasing air changes in a room works on the proper air movement. Thus, it is vital to increase air changes. From time to time, clean and filtered air flushes the infected indoor air. Then, the exhaust pulls off the contaminated indoor air and leaves the room.
Outdoor Air Intakes
Standard 62.1- 2010 pertains to the location of air exhaust discharge. Any Class 4 air exhaust discharge should be at least 30 feet from any air intake.
The specific measurements ensure that the air exhaust should be far from any air intake. It is necessary not to contaminate the clean outdoor air. It is also needed to ensure that exhaust is far from the public to avoid. contamination and the spread of infections.
Exhaust Air Outlets
Exhaust air outlets need to have proper design. Highly contaminated exhausts have designated locations. It should be far from doors, occupied areas, and operable windows. The standard provides very specific measurements to ensure non-contamination. It also promotes sterile indoor air from the air intake. These are necessary to ease the healing condition of the patient.
ASHRAE Standard 170 set the requirements for assisted living, hospice, and nursing facilities. But, ASHRAE Standard 62.1 or 62.2 are applicable for non-transient and residential. Other facilities should apply the design criteria in the hospital facility.
The ASHRAE Standard 62.1 set the guidelines on the air quality in hospital facilities. It ensures that a hospital must have a proper control measure. It should provide air free of dust, dirt, odor, chemical, and radioactive pollutants.
It should have appropriate outdoor air treatment. It contains bacteria, viruses, molds, and chemicals. If left untreated, it could spread the infection to patients. These are harmful, especially for those suffering from cardiopulmonary, respiratory, or pulmonary conditions.
AKCP HVAC Monitoring Systems
HVAC systems have the role of maintaining a clean, germ-free environment to contribute to the well-being of patients and to prevent the spread of disease. These determining factors mean that the design of air conditioning systems for the hospital sector must take into account. For the HVAC system to run at its optimal performance, monitoring the units is important.
AKCP HVAC monitoring solution is suitable for all types of commercial air handlers. The efficiency of air handling units (AHU) greatly impacts a building’s energy use. They are responsible for the control of the temperature, humidity, filtration, and building pressurization.
AKCP HVAC monitoring solution is also capable of monitoring the temperature of the return air, outside air, mixed air, and the supply and discharge lines. A basic AHU monitoring system will analyze the thermal performance. Additional sensors for measuring static pressure, airflow, fan, and compressor kW give a more detailed analysis of the system.
AKCP Air Quality Sensors
The sensor detects various Metal Oxide (MOx) gases, displaying the value as a VOC Index.
The VOC Index is a logarithmic scale that is relative to the typical indoor gas composition over the past 24 hours. With a range of 0 to 500, the typical value for a normal environment is 100. Values greater than 100 indicate worsening air quality with a higher concentration of metal oxide gases over the past 24 hours. Values lower than 100 indicate improving air quality.
Detection for 5 different sizes. PM0.5, PM1.0, PM2.5, PM4 and PM10. The sensor is able to measure the mass concentration of particles in the PM1.0 to PM10 range and particle number concentration in the PM0.5 to PM10 range. The typical particle size is also measured. This measurement is based on the average size of the current sample.
Airborne pollutants can be a health hazard, and result in sneezing, headaches, asthma, and so on. In addition, during many agricultural and industrial processes, airborne dust can be a serious hazard forming combustible dust clouds.
Wireless Air Pressure Differential
Wireless Air Pressure Differential monitors hospital room pressure and helps keep patients and staff safe
These sensors are also standard compliant such as the following:
- ASHRAE 170 Ventilation in Healthcare Facilities
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control HICPAC (Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee)
- CSA Z317.2-15 Special Requirements for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems in Healthcare Facilities
- Other medical, pharmaceutical, and construction standards
Over 30 years of experience in monitoring solutions AKCP is the world’s leader in environmental monitoring solutions. Hospitals, laboratories, and cleanroom facilities are now choosing AKCP to monitor their critical environments. Our Wireless Tunnel™ radio has excellent penetration within buildings and through obstructions.
Isolation rooms, protective environments, operating rooms, and other controlled areas pressure monitoring can also be accessed remotely thru its online user’s interface, AKCPro Server: Central Monitoring Software.
Make sure to include AKCP in every checklist for effective laboratory monitoring and cleanroom monitoring. It not only accurately measures room pressure differential, ventilation rates (air changes per hour), temperature, and humidity, AKCP HVAC Solution also control the spread of contaminants in applications that matter.