Airborne Particulate Testing

The importance of having air in surgical suites has been a key tenet of minimizing infections following surgical procedures. State laws, as well as the American Institute of Architects and the Joint Commission, have all recommended purifying the air supplied to surgical suites (as well as in other critical areas such as transplant wards). States require a minimum of 95% air filtration while most require the 99.97% filtration provided by high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

While there are many requirements placed on the filtration of air supplied to surgical suites, there are no regulatory requirements on how to insure that the air is actually well-filtered. There are many activities and events that can minimize the effectiveness of filtration, even if the proper filters are installed. Maintenance activities, condensation, filter tears, dried caulking, deteriorating gaskets ad poorly designed filter racks can all lead to the passage of partially unfiltered air into the operating room.

Part of the maintenance and verification of air quality for high caliber medical operations includes routine measurement of airborne particulates in surgical suites, as well as other high-risk hospital areas.