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Published on Jun 11, 2015
Nursing homes are entrusted with the health and well-being of countless residents who depend on their services. Most nursing home residents are elderly and many have existing medical conditions that make the indoor environmental quality of their nursing home a critical component of their health.
In 2015, the European Respiratory Journal (ERJ) published a study that examined how poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can impact the lung health of elderly nursing home residents. The EU funded project looked at 600 residents over the age of 65 in 50 different nursing homes.
Indoor pollutant data was collected from five categories. They included: particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less (PM10), particulate matter with a diameter of 0.1 micrometers or less (PM0.1), formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3). According to the study, for residents exposed to moderate to high levels of PM10 and NO2 there was an association with breathlessness and cough. Exposure to PM0.1 was associated with wheezing, and formaldehyde exposure was linked with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Another area of concern in nursing homes is the presence of microbial contaminants and pathogens. Nursing home residents may already suffer from conditions such as COPD, asthma and other respiratory diseases. The presence of airborne mold could aggravate these conditions and some types of mold, such as Aspergillus, can lead to potentially fatal infections. Some types of bacteria, including Legionella, can also become airborne and lead to serious health concerns. This is especially true in nursing homes were residents may already have a weakened immune system.
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and community-acquired infections spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and by direct contact with others are another area of concern for nursing home residents. Serious infections can be caused by a number of drug resistant pathogens that include everything from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to Clostridium difficile (C. diff).
Even the use of cleaning chemicals that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause indoor air quality issues.
These are just a few things to know about the importance of indoor environmental quality in nursing homes. To learn more about this or other indoor air quality, health and safety, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown below.