Proper ventilation is an integral part of occupants’ well-being in health care facilities, and two organizations have developed a standard that helps ensure high-quality ventilation for patients, employees, and visitors.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) have released ANSI/ASHRAE/ASHE Standard 170-2008, Ventilation of Health Care Facilities. The standard defines ventilation-system design requirements that provide environmental control for comfort, as well as infection and odor control.

The standard is the first ANSI standard in the United States to specifically address ventilation in health care facilities. Various authorities for health care facility construction can adopt the standard, including city, state, and federal governments, and private national organizations, such as the Facilities Guidelines Institute and the Joint Commission.

Without high-quality ventilation in health care facilities, occupants and visitors can become infected simply by breathing.

“Air-transmitted pathogens can be found everywhere in poorly ventilated health care facilities,” says Richard Hermans, P.E., ASHRAE certified healthcare facility design professional. “Because these organisms are found in higher concentrations in hospitals and because patients are susceptible to them, additional care should be taken in the design of ventilation systems.”

The standard addresses: systems and equipment; space ventilation for a variety of areas in facilities, such as airborne-infection isolation rooms, critical-care units, burn units, surgery rooms, and Class B and C operating rooms; and planning, construction, and system startup.

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