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How and why hospital air becomes contaminated

While recovering in a New York City hospital, it is important for patients to breathe in air free of deadly pathogens. However, not all health care facilities maintain quality air as they should. In fact, according to Hughes Environmental, the Centers for Disease Control estimates as many as 1.7 million people contract infections from staying in a hospital. Many of these infections are due to contaminants carried by the hospital’s air.

Inspiredliving.com identifies a number of sources that can cause contaminants to build up in a hospital. Typically, harmful pathogens will grow in places that involve the hospital’s air circulation system, such as the air vents. If air vents in a hospital are not kept clean, they can become a transmitter of dangerous contaminants.

Stagnant water

No hospital staff should want water pooling in their building's air ventilation system. If water builds up and does not drain out, it can foster the growth of harmful contaminants. These can include viruses, bacteria, molds and fungi. With these pathogens growing in air vents, it is only a matter of time before they are carried into other rooms, including rooms where patients are recovering. These substances can be lethal to many patients since their immune systems will be weakened from recent treatments. 

Older buildings

Aging medical facilities can present greater risks of air contamination. For one thing, air ventilation systems in older buildings have been in use for greater lengths of time, and consequently, may be using older parts that are not as efficient. Older facilities may also possess maintenance issues such as broken air fans. Additionally, if the building staff has tried to cut corners in air maintenance, they may have opted for substandard parts.   

Other places of concern

In addition to the air ventilation system, stagnant water can gather in other locations throughout the hospital. These can include the floor carpeting, insulation, and ceiling tiles. Also, respiratory equipment can be a risk for growing molds. Since respiratory equipment generates mist, it can spawn contaminants if it is not dried off after use.

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