Carel, a manufacturer of HVAC-related control and humidification solutions, has published a white paper on the importance of air humidification inside healthcare facilities.
As epidemiologists ruminate on whether to classify COVID-19 as being “airborne”, the paper discusses a timely subject on the pivotal role of relative humidity (RH) in environmental control for the airborne transmission of bacteria and viruses.
The paper cites a one-year study conducted in a US hospital that monitored all environmental parameters in 10 rooms as well as the medical conditions of the patients who stayed in these rooms. The study found that when RH had reached and exceeded 40 per cent, infections were drastically reduced from a maximum of 10 per month to zero.
Also cited in the paper, a study investigating influenza virus spread within a confined environment, found that infectivity had dropped from 80 to 20 per cent once RH was between 40 and 70 per cent.
“In addition to hindering the growth of microbes and bacteria, suitable humidity monitoring has the effect of drastically reducing their transmission rate and is absolutely essential in environments such as hospitals, where pathogens and exposed patients particularly sensitive to infections coexist,” says Carel Application Specialist and author of the white paper, Andrea Oscar Frisiero.
“However, what emphasis do we put on proper air humidification throughout a healthcare facility? We know that pathogens thrive, travelling further and living longer, in dry air, enhancing greatly their transmission capabilities.”
Outside of critical areas such as neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), operation rooms and sterile supply rooms, Frisiero says that many facilities barely track the RH levels.
Based on the cited studies, Frisiero advocates addressing the proper air humidification levels in these non-critical areas and throughout an entire healthcare facility, or at least consistently monitoring these areas to identify potential problems.
He also addresses the need to improve the health of hospital staff and patient outcomes by incorporating RH monitoring to the existing protocols of healthcare facilities.
The white paper also discussed the following aspects of humidification:
Maintaining correct function of machinery
According to Frisiero, air humidity can also be a tool to protect electronic equipment against the damage caused by electrostatic discharge.
“To avoid electrostatic charge problems,” he says, “it is recommended to maintain relative humidity above 35 per cent, taking care not to neglect other anti-ESD precautions, especially those concerning the machine’s construction.”
Ensuring wellbeing of room occupants
Humidification is also very important for the wellbeing and comfort of those staying and working in a hospital.
“A suitable level of relative humidity prevents excessive skin, eye and respiratory tract dryness, and enables us to breathe and perspire more easily,” Frisiero says.
The paper specifies four essential manufacturing measures for the proper installation of the humidification system: hygiene; reliability; energy saving and connectivity.
Click here to view the white paper.