It is important that healthcare facilities have access to great quality indoor air; therefore large quantity of the outside air coming into the facility pass through the ventilation system. Bacteria travels faster on water vapor in the air, so eliminating this moisture before it gains access into the facility is a necessity. This will prevent growth of bacteria as well as enhance comfort for patients.
Conventional mechanical air conditions use cooling coils to dehumidify the air by cooling the air drawn to its surface. This reduces the moisture contents on its surface, thus making it drip away. Although, the air exiting the coils can have relative humidity levels at approximately 95%. In a typical air conditioning application with room temperature ranging from 72 to 75°F, there are no issues concerned with this particular cooling based dehumidification process.
However, if you are looking to maintain room temperature at about 65°F and lower, the traditional air conditioning system cannot work because the humidity level exiting the coils is too high.
Discomfort for Surgical Staff
The emergence of HIV has brought about changes to the dress codes of surgical staff. In order to fully protect themselves, they wear protective apparels. This is however, not common in the past. Due to the thickness of these protective garments, surgeons demand that the room temperature be regulated to as low as 55 to 65°F, which ultimately makes humidity harder to regulate when using the conventional air-conditioning system. Humidity in cool air can rise to over 75%. These damp, cool conditions can make surgeons to not only feel uncomfortable but also perspire.
Enhances Bacteria Growth
Bacteria, as we all know, survive and multiplies rapidly in high humidity conditions. Let’s take for instance, Legionella Pneumophila flourish ideally at a relative humidity level of about 65%. On the other hand, the bacteria find it difficult to survive at relative humidity levels below 35%. but at around relative humidity levels of 35% and lower, survival rate becomes low which eventually leads to death.
Also, the Polio virus does well to thrive and multiply in relatively high humidity levels of about 80%. In addition, fungi and dust mites also survive in humid building materials thus resulting into respiratory issues linked with sick building syndrome. Since most ductwork downstream of cooling coils come with higher relative humidity, bacteria find the environment conducive and convenient to flourish.
Unlike the conventional cooling-based system, control systems for healthcare spaces provide a tested alternative for humidity controls at lower temperatures. With this system, the moisture removal ability improves at even lower air temperatures.
With control systems for healthcare facilities, humid air outdoors is guided through a desiccant bed, which completely eliminate moisture by cleaning the air of all water molecules. An existing HVAC system then helps to dry the air. With a dry air, no moisture is formed and hence no contamination. With low humidity, it is impossible for moisture to find its way into duct linings or building materials, thus eliminating every possibility of microbial growth.