What are possible sources of dirty hospital air?

We want our California hospitals to be a place of treatment and healing. We would not want to go to a hospital only to end up sicker than when we first came in. And yet if proper hygiene is not observed or if there is a problem with facility upkeep, there is the possibility that pathogens and infections could get loose in the air. The result is that patients may endure longer hospital stays or otherwise healthy people may become ill.

There are a number of ways hospital air can become contaminated. Consulting-Specifying Engineer Magazine lays out several issues the staff of any hospital or medical facility should watch out for. Keeping on top of potential causes of hospital air pollution can prevent unnecessary sicknesses and infections.

Medical Contaminants

Hospital patients create all sorts of contaminants by virtue of being treated for injuries or illnesses. Contaminated substances include bandages and other dressings as well as medical gloves worn by physicians. These substances should be disposed of according to sound hygiene practices. If not, they have the potential to contaminate the air and allow unsafe pathogens to spread.

Trash and Waste

Hospitals, like any other busy facility, produce a lot of ordinary trash and waste that should be disposed of on a regular basis. To the degree that trash remains inside the hospital building itself before being taken to a disposal location like a dumpster, the waste should be covered in a proper manner. If hospital trash lingers for too long, it could contaminate the air.

Cleaning Chemicals

Even though it is proper to clean surfaces and windows, the chemicals in cleaners still present contamination risks if proper care is not taken. For one thing, cleaning chemicals may project pungent odors into the air which patients might object to. Also, it is important for surfaces to dry correctly after cleaning. If not, they may produce molds. Additionally, sometimes overspray may go undetected and cause molds to grow.

The HVAC System

Problems can also result from the HVAC system. Ducts, if not cleaned on a regular basis, can accumulate dirt or dust, which may in time spread throughout the hospital. Ducts can also acquire moisture from the humidification of the HVAC system or from cracks in the hospital’s structure. This moisture can instigate mold and fungus growths which may go unnoticed until a problem erupts.

Given these examples, the staff of a hospital has a duty to keep the premises as clean as possible. Since air quality can be negatively affected in many different ways, this article should not be considered as legal advice and should be read for educational benefit only.

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