5 strategies to ensure better air quality for hospitals

Proper air filtration in hospitals is essential to creating a healthy and safe environment for patients, staff, and visitors. In this article, we examine steps that can be taken to improve hospital air quality in Canadian facilities and how to select the best air filters for hospitals.

How to get Better air quality in hospitals

1. Follow CSA and ASHRAE Standards for healthcare facilities

Most hospitals in Canada follow the guidelines set by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The CSA Standard Z317.2:19 provides requirements for the planning, design, construction, commissioning, operation, and maintenance of HVAC systems in HCFs..

These guidelines highlight the critical need to prevent the spread of contaminants and reduce the transmission of airborne infections in hospitals which impact  the indoor air quality on the health of patients, visitors, and hospital staff. The role of air filtration in maintaining a safe and healthy environment is outlined.

It also provides additional guidance for healthcare facilities operating under extreme outdoor and indoor conditions and revised guidelines for HVAC system upgrades associated with renovations or additions. The standard includes requirements for HEPA filter testing, performance verification, and updated HVAC design criteria.

The Canadian Biosafety Standard, Third Edition, provides additional requirements for healthcare facilities, with more stringent requirements compared to non-healthcare facilities. The guidance also provides recommendations for pre-certification of HEPA filters according to the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST) standard.

The CSA guidelines specify the use of air filters with various Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) ratings based on the area of patient care.

ASHRAE Standard 170 provides guidelines for ventilation systems in healthcare facilities. It applies to new buildings, additions, and alterations. The standard covers patient care areas, resident care areas, and related support spaces. It outlines specific requirements for inpatient areas of hospitals and provides a lower level of requirements for outpatient and residential health facilities. The standard ensures proper ventilation for patient recovery, including temperature, humidity, and odour control.

2. Select air filters designed for hospital air filtration

Choose ASHRAE (ASHRAE 52.2 Appendix J) compliant MERV-A-rated air filters to protect patients, visitors, and staff from harmful airborne contaminants based on CSA recommendations. In order to help with sustainability objectives, use filters last longer and reduce waste, labour costs, and energy consumption. Air filters play a crucial role in removing harmful particulates, bacteria, viruses, and allergens, which can reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and respiratory issues.

  • MERV-A-rated filters undergo testing after any electrostatic charge has been removed through a conditioning step
  • Selecting the right air filter can improve air circulation throughout the hospital, which further enhances air quality, reduces HAIs, and creates a more comfortable and healthier environment
  • High-quality air filters lead to better patient outcomes and an improved overall experience
  • High-quality air filters can prevent dust and debris from entering sensitive machinery, saving hospitals money on maintenance, repairs, and capital costs for equipment as equipment life is extended
  • Investing in high-quality air filters can help minimize virus outbreaks and mitigate potential liability resulting from an unsafe environment
  • When selecting an air filter, consider the specific contaminants you want to remove
  • Media: The type of filter media used is crucial. High-quality media ensures effective particle capture for a longer period

Hospitals should use healthcare-grade activated-carbon air filters to remove odours, harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other harmful gases.

When selecting filters for locations within the hospital, refer to Table 4 in the CSA Z317.2 document which specifies the use of MERV-A rated filtration. 

MERV-A value represents the filter’s lifetime efficiency. These filters provide reliable performance over an extended period, making them suitable for hospitals where consistent air filtration is crucial.

Talk to an air filtration expert to learn about all the options available and which ones best suit your facility.

3. Ensure that you have an adequate air exchange rate in your hospital

Bringing enough outside air into your hospital is crucial in order to dilute indoor air pollutants. Balance energy efficiency with the need for enough outdoor air intake. By using air quality monitors, it is possible to configure optimal airflow and energy-saving settings.

4. Use Certified HEPA or ULPA Filtration in accordance with ASHRAE and CSA guidelines

Install HEPA and ULPA filters in critical areas (e.g., operating rooms, isolation rooms). HEPA and ULPA filters provide the highest level of filtration efficiency. HEPA filters capture 99.97% of particles at 0.3 microns, and ULPA filters capture 99.999% of particles at 0.12 microns.

5. Regularly maintain and monitor your hospital air filtration system

Hospital HVAC systems must be regularly cleaned and maintained. Air filter inspections and replacements are crucial in maintaining high air quality.

Heating and cooling coils and other components must be cleaned and replaced when necessary to maintain system integrity.

Monitoring, reporting, and Documenting

It is essential to establish a robust monitoring system to keep track of: 

  • Air filter pressure drop
  • Airflow
  • Particle concentration
  • Air quality
  • Air filter performance

Regular evaluation and documentation of air filter replacements, maintenance, and compliance with CSA and ASHRAE standards is crucial. To ensure optimal performance, pressure differentials across filter banks must be monitored closely. Proper air filtration is essential for improving indoor air quality, ensuring patient, visitor, and hospital employee wellbeing, and enhancing hospital staff productivity. By following these standards, hospitals can create a healthier atmosphere for everyone.

Camfil Products for hospitals:

CamCleaner Vertical

Camfil particulate air cleaners are a perfect fit for Aspergillus prevention works and patient facility upgrades. Particulate air cleaners are used to reduce the number of contaminants in the air.

CamCleaner CC500

Equipped with particulate and molecular filters to deliver a healthier indoor environment by removing dust, contaminants and harmful particles in department stores, offices, schools, hospitals, and homes.

  • CC500 produces 500 CFM of HEPA-filtered air.
  • MERV 9/9A prefilter to extend the HEPA filter’s service life
  • Smooth-rolling caster wheels for portability
  • It can be mounted on a wall or interstitial for recirculation or exhaust
  • The hospital-grade cord plugs into any standard 120-volt three-prong outlet

Molecular air cleaners

In hospitals, Camfil molecular air cleaners are used to remove odours from laboratory environments, as well as gasses such as hydrogen peroxide, which is used to decontaminate sterile environments.

To consult with an air filtration expert who specializes in air filtration for hospitals, please use this contact form. An expert from Camfil Canada will answer any questions you may have.

About Camfil Canada Clean Air Solutions

For more than 60 years, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. Read more about Camfil Canada



Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and

Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

Media Contact:

Phillip Ilijevski

Camfil Canada Inc.

T: 437-929-1161

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