Buying an air purifier for medical institutions
An air purifier in a medical setting may provide a host of benefits for both patients and staff. Read below to find out more about the many ways that an air purifier can be helpful in protecting all those who enter a healthcare facility.
What is a medical air purifier?
Many types of healthcare institutions can fall under the umbrella of ‘medical establishments’ such as:
- General surgeries or doctor’s offices
- Nursing homes
- Mental health facilities
- Physiotherapy and rehabilitation practices
- General radiography and ultrasound establishments
When spending time in any of these places, people who require care can easily spread disease. This is particularly concerning since many individuals at these institutions are immunocompromised or suffering from diseases of their own, making them particularly vulnerable. In fact, nosocomial infections (diseases that are contracted in medical establishments) are a major public health concern and affect more than 100 million patients per year on a global scale. These viruses or bacteria can lead to a variety of problems that impact not only the patient but can lead to massive financial burdens on our health systems by causing prolonged hospital stays and high rates of mortality1. Furthermore, nosocomial infections are often antibiotic resistant, complicating treatment2. However, as you will read in the section below, infection is not the only factor causing poor air quality in a medical facility.
Medical air purifiers are effective due to their clean air delivery rate (CADR). This is a metric that measures the efficiency of an air purifier in removing contaminated airborne particles based on the volume of clean air produced per minute. A medical air purifier has a higher CADR than a standard air purifier, measuring between 400 to 500 m3 (14,100 to 17,600 cubic feet) per hour. Read more about CADR in our Buying Guide.
Air purifiers for healthcare settings are designed mainly for professional usage, but they can also be useful for certain individuals suffering from respiratory conditions, severe allergies, or are looking for extra protection from viruses or bacteria and other airborne particles or pollutants. An air purifier with a medical-grade HEPA filter can help ease symptoms of respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Factors contributing to unhealthy air in medical establishments
As mentioned above, germs (bacteria and viruses) contribute significantly to unhealthy air in medical institutions, making a medical air purifier a crucial addition to a medical office.
However, many other biological particle pollutants exist including mould or mildew caught in floor tiles and organic matter. Additionally, pests like cockroaches and rats, and dust and allergens (pollen, pet dander tracked in by patients) trapped in rugs and carpets can all lead to higher rates of infectious disease. These things can also aggravate pre-existing conditions, especially respiratory conditions like asthma and allergic rhinitis, potentially triggering asthma attacks, trouble breathing and chest tightness, fever, and a cough. Some of these symptoms can be fatal to people who are already immunocompromised.
Cleaning and sterilisation products used in both waiting and consultation rooms can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Exposure to VOCs has short-term and long-term risks. Some short-term symptoms of VOC exposure may include eye, nose, and/or throat irritation, headache, skin inflammation, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. In the long-term, some VOCs like formaldehyde and benzene, often found in pressed wood products and new furnishings found in hospitals and GP surgeries, are known carcinogens. Exposure to other VOCs can increase the risk of multiple types of cancer (like lung cancer), respiratory disease, and can even impact mental health.
Finally, the presence of cigarette smoke, furnaces/space heaters, and heavy metals (like lead found in lead paint) in healthcare establishments can all be responsible for releasing particles in the air that cause gastrointestinal discomfort, fatigue, weakness, personality changes, headaches, hearing loss, abdominal pain, seizures, irritation of the eyes and throat, headaches, and fevers, especially in those who are most vulnerable.
The advantages of an air purifier for medical institutions
A HEPA-certified medical air purifier can help to protect patients, doctors, and caregivers in consultation rooms, doctor’s offices, waiting rooms, laboratories, and patient or resident rooms by reducing the spread of disease and exposure to air pollutants.
For patients, there are many benefits to having an air purifier in a medical office. In addition to filtering out pathogens such as bacterial and viral exposure, simply seeing a medical air purifier on site may help them feel more at ease whilst awaiting or undergoing treatment. Several studies have found that emotional well-being plays an important role in long-term recovery. These studies have shown that psychology is related to the severity and survival rate of many diseases, especially with immune and cardiovascular diseases3. If a patient feels relaxed, they will likely experience positive effects in their healing.
The same goes for staff and personnel of healthcare establishments. A medical air purifier in their place of work can reduce the risk of disease exposure whilst also providing them with peace of mind and a feeling of protection from these diseases and cross-contamination.
How to choose an air purifier for medical establishments?
In choosing an air purifier for a medical institution, it is important to consider a few factors. First and foremost is the size of your facility. Medical establishments tend to be quite large, and air purifiers are designed to filter the air in rooms of a certain size. It is crucial to have an air purifier that is properly sized to your space. A waiting room, on the other hand, is usually smaller and would require an air purifier sized to a room of a smaller volume.
Other factors like filter type, budget, and noise level are also equally important.
Be sure to choose a device that contains a medical-grade HEPA filter, a filter that removes 99.95% of contaminants down to a size of 0.01 μm from the room. An air purifier equipped with a UV sterilisation option may also be beneficial in a medical office to help combat viruses and bacteria. (Keep in mind that ‘HEPA-type’ filters, albeit cheaper, can not guarantee the same level of filtration).
There are three things to keep in mind regarding budget: 1) the initial purchase of the device, 2) the maintenance costs such as filter replacements, and 3) energy consumption. Air purifiers vary greatly in price depending upon the filtration technologies they offer. Also, low-quality filters need replacing multiple times per year (which contributes a great deal to your budget), whereas high-quality HEPA-certified filters, like Eoleaf’s, only require replacing once a year. Finally, an air purifier that consumes lots of energy will rack up your monthly energy bill. Ensure that you choose an air purifier that is energy-efficient!
This is particularly important in a waiting room, a hospital, or a place where patients need to rest and recuperate. An air purifier that is powerful yet quiet so as not to disturb recovering patients in their rooms will be your best bet. Certain air purifiers like Eoleaf’s offer a Night Mode setting which keeps the device running at its lowest speed and dimming all of the indicator lights, allowing a patient to rest whilst still benefitting from purified air.
1 Taye, Z. W., Abebil, Y. A., Akalu, T. Y., Tessema, G. M., & Taye, E. B. (2023). Incidence and determinants of nosocomial infection among hospital admitted adult chronic disease patients in University of Gondar Comprehensive Specialized Hospital, North–west Ethiopia, 2016–2020. Frontiers in Public Health, 11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9998944/
2 Pollack, A. (2010, February 26). Rising threat of infections unfazed by antibiotics. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/27/business/27germ.html
3 Lamers, S. M., Bolier, L., Westerhof, G. J., Smit, F., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. (2011). The impact of emotional well-being on long-term recovery and survival in physical illness: A meta-analysis. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 35(5), 538–547. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3439612/
4 Air changes per hour (ACH). Sanalife. (2023). https://fr.sanalifewellness.com/blog/air-changes-per-hour-ach