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What Air Filters Do Hospitals Use: Everything You Should Know

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Controlling airborne contaminants, preventing cross-contamination, reducing respiratory symptoms, and protecting the well-being of patients and healthcare workers are pivotal parts of hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Clean and healthy air helps prevent the spread of airborne pathogens, reducing the risk of hospital-acquired infections. It also ensures a comfortable environment for patients, promotes faster healing and minimizes respiratory symptoms and allergies.

Air filters are essential components in maintaining clean and healthy indoor environments. They work by capturing and removing airborne particles, such as dust, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, and viruses, from the air.

By trapping these contaminants, air filters prevent them from circulating and being inhaled by occupants, reducing the risk of respiratory ailments and allergies.

What Types of Air Filter Do Hospitals Use?

Air filters used in hospitals are engineered to meet various requirements in certain areas within healthcare facilities. 

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters

HEPA filters are highly efficient in capturing particles as small as 0.3 microns, including bacteria, viruses, and allergens. They are widely used in critical areas such as operating rooms, isolation rooms, and cleanrooms to maintain sterile conditions and prevent the spread of airborne contaminants.

Ultra-Low Particulate Air (ULPA) Filters

Similar to HEPA filters, ULPA filters provide an even higher level of filtration efficiency, capable of capturing particles as small as 0.1 microns. These filters are commonly used in sensitive environments, such as pharmaceutical manufacturing areas and research laboratories.

Activated Carbon Filters

Activated carbon filters are effective in removing odors, gases, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. They contain a bed of activated carbon that adsorbs and traps these pollutants, ensuring improved air quality and reducing potential health risks associated with harmful gases.

Different Areas in Healthcare Facilities Where Air Filters Are Utilized

Photo by Jair Lázaro

Patient Rooms and Wards

Patient rooms and wards are essential areas in healthcare facilities where air quality is crucial for the well-being of patients. Air filters are used in these spaces to remove airborne particles, allergens, and microorganisms that could potentially compromise patient health.

By employing high-quality air filters, hospitals can minimize the risk of airborne infections, allergies, and respiratory issues, creating a clean and comfortable environment conducive to patient recovery.

Operating Rooms and Sterile Environments

Operating rooms demand the highest level of cleanliness and sterile conditions to ensure successful surgeries and prevent post-operative complications. Air filters play a vital role in achieving the sterile environment necessary for surgical procedures.

HEPA filters are commonly used in operating rooms to capture and remove airborne bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants.
These filters are capable of filtering out particles as small as 0.3 micrometers, effectively reducing the risk of surgical site infections and maintaining the integrity of the sterile space.

Waiting Areas and Common Spaces

Waiting areas and common spaces in healthcare facilities, such as lobbies, reception areas, and corridors, are often frequented by patients, visitors, and staff workers. These areas can be potential sources of airborne pollutants, including dust, allergens, and germs.
Air filters are employed in these spaces to ensure clean and healthy indoor air quality, reducing the transmission of airborne pathogens and improving the overall indoor environment.

By filtering out pollutants and maintaining fresh air circulation, air filters contribute to a more pleasant and hygienic experience for everyone in the healthcare facility.

Critical Care Units

Critical care units, including intensive care units (ICUs) and neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), require specialized air filtration systems due to the vulnerability of patients in these areas.

These units typically employ a combination of HEPA filters and other advanced filtration technologies to create highly controlled environments. The air filters in critical care units aim to remove airborne particles, bacteria, viruses, and fungi, minimizing the risk of hospital-acquired infections, to support the recovery of critically ill patients.

What Filtration Ratings Should Hospital Air Systems Use?

Photo by BBC

The filtration rating used in hospitals may vary depending on the specific application and area within the healthcare facility. The minimum filtration rating requirement for healthcare facilities is MERV 13 filters.

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and it is a rating system that measures the efficiency of an air filter in removing particulates from the air. MERV 13 filters are capable of removing 85% of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger.

Critical areas such as operating rooms and isolation units may have stricter filtration requirements compared to general patient rooms or common areas. The filtration system design and selection are typically determined based on the specific needs and guidelines set forth by healthcare regulatory bodies and infection control protocols.


Air filters play a critical role in promoting health and safety in healthcare settings. They are instrumental in removing harmful particles, bacteria, viruses, allergens, and odors from the air, creating a clean and hygienic environment for patients, visitors, and healthcare professionals.

By effectively capturing airborne contaminants, air filters help reduce the risk of infections, improve indoor air quality, and prevent the spread of diseases within healthcare facilities. Their use is essential in maintaining a safe and conducive atmosphere that supports the well-being and recovery of patients.

In light of the crucial role that air filters play in healthcare settings, it is essential for healthcare facility managers and professionals to prioritize air quality. This can be achieved by implementing robust air filtration systems, regularly inspecting and maintaining filters, and ensuring adherence to recommended filtration standards.

It is also crucial to stay updated with the latest advancements in air filtration technology and guidelines provided by regulatory bodies to ensure the highest level of air quality within healthcare facilities. By prioritizing air quality and investing in reliable air filtration solutions, healthcare facilities can create a healthier and safer environment for patients, staff, and visitors.

Talk to our experts about your requirements to come up with optimal air filtration solutions for healthcare facilities.


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