How can Long-term care homes improve IAQ?

In recent years, the significance of indoor air quality (IAQ) in long-term care and nursing homes has gained considerable attention, given its profound impact on resident health and wellbeing. While many individuals recognize the importance of using high-quality, pleated air filters, it must be noted that there is a substantial distinction in the effectiveness of filters rated below MERV 13-A and filters at or above MERV 13-A, in capturing fine particles that can adversely affect human health. This article delves into the critical aspects of IAQ in long-term homes and nursing homes, explores strategies for improving IAQ, and expresses the challenges associated with achieving and maintaining clean indoor air for residents, staff, and visitors.

A mosaic of three pictures. The first shows a caregiver with her arm on a long-term care home resident's shoulder. The resident is sitting on a grey sofa. The second picture shows a meeting of three women and a man in glasses having a meeting and drinking tea. The final picture shows an activities room with a wooden floor. The sun is shining into the room. There are no people in the room. There are light coloured wood tables and light green and grey chairs.

Poor air quality can have a significant impact on a long-term care facility. Lower productivity can result from care home employees feeling unwell or unable to focus due to poor air quality. Also, poor health can lead to increased absenteeism for long-term care facility staff and can lead to much more care being needed for residents. High quality air filters ensure that less contaminants enter the HVAC system and this reduces equipment maintenance requirements. Good IAQ guarantees better health for residents, staff, and visitors as well as higher satisfaction at facilities.

Strategies for Improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in Long-Term Care Facilities

Ensuring clean and healthy indoor air in long-term care homes is vital for resident health and wellbeing. By implementing comprehensive IAQ strategies, utilizing proper air filtration systems, and addressing potential sources of indoor air pollution, care home facilities managers can create environments that promote safety, comfort, and optimal health outcomes for residents, staff, and visitors. Prioritizing IAQ not only improves quality of life but also contributes to cost savings and overall sustainability in long-term care facilities.

Contrary to popular perception, HEPA filters are not always essential for maintaining good air quality in long-term care and nursing homes. Filters with a  MERV 13-A or higher tested rating can effectively remove harmful particulate matter, as well as providing better airflow than HEPA filters. Better airflow leads to better ventilation. Coupled with strategic air circulation and ventilation systems, MERV 13-A filters can significantly improve IAQ in care facilities. If necessary, facilities can use portable HEPA filters in conjunction with the primary filters in sensitive areas requiring more acute care, to further enhance air quality and target more harmful airborne particles.   In applications where higher efficiency filtration is required and you are however unable to use a HEPA filter, filters up to MERV 16/16A (the highest MERV rating available) can be installed.

Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution in Long-term Care Homes

Identifying and addressing potential sources of indoor air pollution in long-term care facilities are important steps in ensuring clean indoor air. 

Long-term care homes are susceptible to biological pollutants such as viruses, mould, bacteria, chemical pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and lead, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), harmful greenhouse gases like ground-level ozone , sulfur dioxide, methane, and carbon dioxide. Poor ventilation and damp conditions in facilities can exacerbate health issues in vulnerable residents. 

The right air filters make your facility more appealing and easier to manage. High performance air filters deliver optimal airflow, last longer, generate less waste, and ultimately require substantially less maintenance time.  

Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and Health Canada Recommendations and Best Practices for indoor air quality in Long-term Care Homes

Health Canada recommends using high-efficiency particulate filters with a minimum MERV rating of 13 or higher to capture harmful particles and reduce indoor air pollutants that could circulate in a facility and lead to poor IAQ. The CSA recommends proper maintenance of HVAC systems, regular air quality assessments, and incorporating advanced air filtration technologies for maintaining clean indoor air in long-term care homes. Additionally, utilizing tools like Magnahelic gauges for monitoring air pressure levels can help prevent filter leakage from bowing or blowout which in turn will reduce airborne illnesses and ensure a healthy indoor environment.

Choosing the Right Air Filters and Equipment

Camfil recommends a minimum of MERV 8-A pre-filters and MERV 13-A final filters for long-term care facilities to meet specific air quality standards and reduce the spread of airborne illnesses. A MERV-A rating is crucial in maintaining efficiency over the life of the filter. Anything less will be inadequate for long-term care homes. The use of HEPA filters in sensitive areas and molecular filtration for removing odours and harmful gases further enhances IAQ. Following guidelines from organizations such as the CSA, ASHRAE or National Air Filter Association (NAFA) ensures proper filtration and ventilation practices, contributing to improved resident comfort and facility compliance.

Choosing the right air filter means better airflow for a longer period of time as well as higher efficiency particle capture. This can lead to less airborne virus circulation in your facility and longer filter life. Higher quality air filtration can help prevent future outbreaks and lockdowns.

NAFA states, “Because many residents have conditions that cause COPD or other pulmonary conditions, a MERV 14 filter is recommended.”Camfil recommends having an air quality expert run tests using the Camtester which gives an accurate estimate for average air filter lifespan. This service is complementary and compares Camfil filters to competitors or currently installed filters of any kind. Read about total cost of ownership of air filters (TCO)

To find out more about how to improve IAQ in Long-term care and nursing home care facilities or get a complimentary IAQ and air filtration site survey, please use this contact form.

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


Media Contact:

Phillip Ilijevski

Camfil Canada Inc.

T: 437-929-1161


GERIE Geriatric Study on Health Effects of Air Quality in Nursing Homes in Europe

Candian Standards Association (CSA)

National AIr Filtration Association (NAFA)Health Canada

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