Posted on January 17, 2017
According to a 2015 study published in the European Respiratory Journal, living in a nursing home is a direct cause of poor lung function, breathlessness and wheezing, especially among residents aged over 80. Elderly nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to indoor air pollutants, as they spend more of their time indoors.
Despite these facts, many nursing home administrators are unaware of the dangers posed by poor indoor air quality and do not take steps to address the issue.
Air purifiers are an effective solution for improving indoor air quality in nursing homes, and in many cases, are inexpensive to install. Read on to find out more about the three major causes of poor air quality in aged care facilities and how air purifiers can help.
The European Respiratory Society has listed heaters as the number-one emitter of airborne pollutants in nursing homes. Wood-fired heaters are the major culprit, as they produce combustion particles that can get lodged deep inside the lungs. Gas heaters are also cause for concern as they emit nitrogen oxides, a key cause of upper respiratory illnesses.
Nursing homes extensively use of heating and cooling systems to effectively regulate indoor temperatures for their residents. Air purifiers will never completely clear a facility's air of pollutants such as combustion particles or nitrogen oxides, but a good, high-efficiency particulate-arresting air filter will be able to trap as many pollutants as possible.
Disinfectants and other cleaning products are essential in all nursing homes to defend against the spread of viruses and bacteria. However, using disinfectants also releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to VOCs causes a wide range of illnesses, from respiratory tract irritation to vital organ damage.
No nursing home can, or should, cut down on their use of disinfectants, but there are some simple steps facility administrators can take to reduce the impact of VOCs on residents. For example, they should ensure that there is adequate ventilation wherever disinfectants are used. Installing an air purifier can also help. Look for a purifier that contains an activated carbon filter, as these devices are specifically designed to trap VOCs and other pollutants.
Nursing homes constantly rotate furniture to keep up with the latest developments in technology and to keep everything in good condition. For example, a bed that may have been comprised of a simple mattress and base some decades ago is now a complex piece of equipment with a variety of buttons the patient can press to adjust the bed for optimal comfort. New furniture items, particularly those containing wood, and the paints used on them release formaldehyde, another VOC, for up to 10 months after manufacture.
This effect is compounded in nursing homes because carpets in the facility trap formaldehyde in the threads and later release them into the air.
Normal levels of formaldehyde are not dangerous to health, as most of us do not spend all day in one room. However, immobile, aged-care residents are particularly vulnerable to the effects of formaldehyde because they generally spend all day indoors. In poorly-ventilated nursing homes, normal levels of formaldehyde combine with other airborne irritants to produce a dangerous cocktail of pollution.
Aged-care facility administrators have a lot to think about when it comes to their residents' health, but one thing that should not be neglected is maintaining good indoor air quality. For advice on the most effective air purifier for your nursing home, or if you are a concerned family member looking to have a portable