Active Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation of the Air: A New Approach to an Old Method

Active Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation of the Air: A New Approach to an Old Method

There is a bounty of evidence documenting the presence of nosocomial organisms, beyond traditional respiratory pathogens, in hospital air (Muszlay, Durmaz, Shiomori, Kumari, Munoz-Price, Gao, Shimose). Numerous bacteria, fungi, and viruses can survive for extended periods of time in the relatively harsh airborne environment and have been captured by both active and passive sampling methods in patient wards, operating rooms, and outpatient waiting rooms (Edmiston, D’Arcy, Shiomori, Lee, Marchand). In many cases, these organisms have shared clonality with the patient or staff isolates (Edmiston, Shiomori, Shimose).

It is right in front of your face. The ever presence of potentially infectious air within hospitals.

It is right in front of your face. The ever presence of potentially infectious air within hospitals.

Have you ever walked into a room where the sunshine is streaming in through the window? And if you were to look closely, beyond the beauty of the light, you could see that there are millions of particles floating, suspended in the air? So many that you must begin to wonder. Particulates, pollen, dander, dust mite debris, and who knows what forms of smoke may be present. Is the air everywhere like this air?

A recent study featured in the American Journal of Infection Control identifies hospital air as a potential route of transmission for infections caused by β-lactam-resistant bacteria. These bacteria are often the cause of nosocomial (healthcare-associated) infections, and they’re getting harder to treat effectively. These so called superbugs can become airborne and are transmissible that way.