Poor Air Quality in Hospitals

One might assume that the air in medical offices and hospitals is perfect, or at least doesn't make us sick. However, this is far from the truth.

Surprisingly, based on our experience, the air in medical offices and hospitals is much worse than anywhere else. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are especially a huge problem in these places.

While everyone focuses on CO2, considering it a measure of good indoor air quality, VOCs are completely overlooked. Like CO2, VOCs are gases and substances that float in the air. They are mostly produced indoors through paint, cleaning agents, bacteria, dust, and much more. Precisely because hospitals pay such close attention to hygiene, regularly disinfecting and cleaning, this very practice increases the level of VOCs in the air to a level that is harmful to health in a short time.

Despite regulations in many countries requiring all public buildings to exchange their entire indoor air with filtered outdoor air at least three times per hour, we have not found such ventilation systems in hospitals and medical offices in Poland, Germany, or the USA. So far, this is without exception. Even if such systems exist somewhere, they are usually regulated based on the CO2 content of the indoor air, completely neglecting VOCs.

A friend of ours took her CO2 and VOC meter to the hospital. However, she was not allowed to turn it on there. The reaction to air measurement devices in hospitals is more like catching someone in the act, and everyone just has excuses for why such a device should not be turned on in a hospital. This suggests that the problem in hospitals might be known and is deliberately ignored. Both for CO2 and VOCs, there are regulations in every country for the maximum permissible concentration, and so far, we have not found a single medical office or clinic that even remotely meets these standards according to our measurements.

Specifically, in waiting areas and patient rooms, these values are exceeded by our experience multiple times over.

Example of a Public Building

A large hall in the USA, used for events on weekends, had catastrophic measurement readings during our visit.

Already near the open entrance door, the readings started to rise and reached the maximum value our device can display just a few seconds after entering the hall.

In conversations with the responsible parties, we could only detect a sense of bewilderment. Everyone at least knew that one feels uncomfortable in the hall and can hardly breathe. But no one had ever measured this or tried to do something about it. The common opinion was simply, 'That's just how it is in buildings, nothing can be done about it.'

But that's exactly what's wrong. In most buildings, something could very easily be done about it. It only becomes complicated when you have to comply with the countries' energy conservation regulations. These regulations stipulate that everything should be kept tightly closed. Whereas other regulations, those for health, prescribe the exact opposite. Therefore, in the construction industry worldwide, the regulation of energy conservation is given priority over health.