PM2.5 - How Hospitals Can Protect Patients from Air Pollution - Part 2

Read part one here.

How PM 2.5 Damages Human Health

Upon reviewing 10 studies of PM 2.5 in children under 5, scientists at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom concluded that those with “higher exposure to particulate matter were at a higher risk of developing pneumonia compared to children with less exposure.”

Though children are more susceptible to PM2.5 harm than adults, even adults in the prime of life are not immune. On those days when haze envelopes skyscrapers, plenty of healthy adults experience coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and/or irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.

None of that is surprising, but this may be: PM2.5. appears to impair cognitive performance even in healthy, young adults — findings that could have implications for hospital staff.

In a British study, healthy non-smokers in their twenties underwent tests of memory, language, visual-spatial skills, and attentiveness before and after exposures to outdoor PM2.5. They were asked, for example, to repeat words spoken by a researcher, to do simple mathematical calculations, and to copy geometrical designs on a blank piece of paper.

The scientists reported “a statistically robust decline” in their performance after PM2.5 exposure.

Similar testing on older adults in Mexico also found a link between PM2.5 exposure and poorer memory, language, and other cognitive skills. Like their British counterparts, the Mexican researchers found their results worrisome, given the world’s rapidly ageing populations and high levels of air pollution.

How Hospitals Can Protect Patients from PM2.5

The importance of clean hospital air has long been recognized. In 1860, in fact, Florence Nightingale wrote that the “very first canon of nursing” is to “keep the air [the patient] breathes as pure as the external air.”

Today’s hazardous external air poses threats that Nightingale could never have imagined.

While extreme spikes in air pollution generate the headlines, many regions deal with PM2.5 crises on a daily basis. Some 91% of the world’s population lives in areas that do not meet World Health Organization (WHO) air-quality guidelines. In China, 27% of cities regularly experience extreme air pollution, raising the stakes for hospitals.

Urban hospitals, in particular, contend with high indoor PM2.5 levels, as they do not benefit from the abundant greenery that “acts as a sink for most air pollutants,” Iranian scientists noted in a study of indoor hospital air quality.

What can be done to protect patients?

One body of research focuses on treatments. “It is urgent to find effective therapeutic approaches for attenuating PM2.5 associated diseases,” one Chinese team wrote.

Indeed, finding new treatments may be urgent, but it’s also a lengthy, complex process that requires an entirely different approach for each medical condition linked to microscopic particulate matter.

Hospitals have available a much simpler, immediate, and comprehensive solution: eradicate indoor PM2.5 using ultra-low-energy plasma technology by Novaerus.

In laboratory studies, Novaerus units removed 99% of PM2.5 inside a chamber within 6 minutes.

Novaerus technology operates continuously, quietly, and safely in hospitals, protecting vulnerable patients and staff not just from PM2.5 but also from VOCs emitted by hospital cleaning and disinfecting products, anaesthetic gases, lab and pharmacy products, and off-gassing furniture and cabinetry.

What’s more, the same technology dramatically reduces airborne concentrations of highly contagious viruses and lethal bacteria and fungi.

Norovirus, influenza, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile, and Aspergillus are among the pathogens proven to be destroyed by Novaerus technology.

To safeguard patients and staff from both pollutants and pathogens, hospitals deploy ultra-low energy plasma technology in strategic locations. Whether a hospital prioritizes lobbies and emergency departments, ICUs and operating theatres, or certain patient wards depends on the particular vulnerabilities of that facility.

Though today’s external air will never be as pristine as the ambient air of Florence Nightingale’s time, hospitals can nonetheless provide patients and staff with exceptionally clean indoor air, thanks to Novaerus technology.