Originally published at the Business of Bio & HealthSciences Biospectrum by Sukhbir Sidhu, Founder & CEO Evergen Systems
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) of a healthcare facility by definition involves a variety of factors such as thermal
(temperature and relative humidity) conditions, presence of chemical components & contaminants as well
the outdoor air quality. IAQ is vital in relation to the environment inside hospitals, nursing homes and other
Poor hospital IAQ may cause outbreaks of building-related illnesses such as headaches, fatigue, eye, and skin
irritations, and other symptoms. The pre-requisite for any hospital facility is to provide for and ensure a
good IAQ to safeguard patients, nursing staff and visitors from the hazards of occupational diseases and
nosocomial or hospital-acquired infections (HAI).
According to the World Health Organization, at any given time over 1.4 million people across the globe
suffer from a nosocomial or HAI. HAIs account for 2 million cases and about 80,000 deaths a year.
Understanding the well-being of its patients and workers and safeguarding their health is a matter of
utmost importance to healthcare facilities. Nosocomial infections are a major threat to the patients’ safety
in any health-care facility. However, the prevalence is higher in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) than in other
areas of the hospital. This increased prevalence of nosocomial infection not only influences the mortality
and morbidity pattern of ICU but also poses a significant financial burden to the patient and society.
Further to this a 2008 study by the International Society of the Built Environment of indoor and outdoor air
quality in hospitals in India revealed the counts of bacteria higher in ICUs and wards namely the
orthopaedic ward, neonatal ward, dialysis ward and post-operative ward beyond the recommended levels.
The mere presence of fungi in hospital air was a matter of great concern as many spores can be released
leading to an incidence of HAIs and occupational infections. Noteworthy is the finding that the high counts
were influenced by the activity of ventilation provided.
SICK BUILDING SYNDROME (SBS)
The issue of improving air quality in buildings has previously been mainly related to SBS. It is a situation in
which occupants of a building experience linked to time spent in the building with no specific illness.
Symptoms of SBS are acute discomfort, headaches, dizziness, eye, nose, throat irritation, dry cough, itchy skin,
nausea etc. Recently many researchers have worked on SBS issue and its effect on office workers and
noticed that SBS is not linked to the type of ventilation or air conditioning system used but it is more likely
to be a function of how well system are installed, managed and operated. Therefore Operation &
Maintenance of HVAC systems in hospitals are more critical than other buildings.
Active Ionisation technology to improve IAQ
Active Ionisation technology has an elevated antibacterial power and is proven to be active on pollen, fine
dust, toner, mould, smog, viruses, bacteria and tobacco smoke. These contaminants, according to their size,
can enter the body and damage certain organs. Among the most dangerous airborne substances we find
Legionella, a very topical problem that causes millions of deaths every year. With Evergen’s Active Ionisation
air cleaners, this problem is eliminated as pollen, dust mites, fungus and other contaminants are captured
The technology is extremely efficient and is proven at removing 98-99% of:
- Airborne bacteria, such as Micrococcus luteus;
- Yeast, such as Rhodotorula rubra;
- Bacillus Anthracis;
- Moulds and germs present in the natural spectrum of air.
Maintaining the humidity levels
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems of buildings and their components, as well as sanitary
equipments, can nurture and amplify the diffusion of airborne substances. Among these, Staphylococcus
Aureus and Legionella are seen as particularly dangerous. The first cases of legionellosis were in fact
attributed to airborne substances containing bacteria from cooling towers, evaporative condensers or
humidification sections of the air handling units of AC systems. Infections are also caused by contamination
of water supply networks, sanitary appliances, oxygen therapy equipment, fountains and ultrasonic
Hospitals are the backbone of health care delivery system in India; this again highlights that maintaining a
healthy IAQ and demands immediate attention of hospital authorities towards taking the necessary
measures to maintain a sound and healthy atmosphere for the patients, healthcare workers and others.