Background: Indoor Air Quality and the medical examiner’s office
Medical examiners and their staff encounter a variety of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) risks at work. Many duties — such as performing autopsies, conducting examinations, collecting evidence and interpreting toxicological tests — require exposure to potential health hazards. This includes contact with viruses, bacteria, volatile organic compounds (such as formaldehyde) and other hazardous airborne contaminants. Managing Indoor Air Quality and ensuring staff safety is important to the success of the medical examiner’s operations. Adequate ventilation and control of contaminants at their source are vital, but air filtration may also be needed.
The Broward County (Fla.) Office of Medical Examiner and Trauma Services contacted IQAir with concerns about the Indoor Air Quality at its Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., office. The staff of 42 handles more than 1,800 cases annually, serving a large district with more than 1.8 million residents. The duties of the team include death (and death-scene) investigations, pathology, toxicology and other services such as indigent cremation and disposition.
Problem: Viruses, bacteria and other airborne contaminants
Representatives of the medical examiner’s office contacted IQAir with issues regarding Indoor Air Quality and potential staff exposures to airborne contaminants. Key areas of concern included potential exposures while performing examinations and autopsies, and taking specimens of vital organs or body fluids for microscopic or chemical testing. These concerns led Dr. Craig Mallak, chief medical examiner, to wonder if the staff could benefit from the same air-cleaning technology that worked so well in his home. Mallak asked IQAir to help design an air filtration solution that would provide similar results – medical-grade air quality – in the medical examiner’s autopsy and surgical suites, and also in other offices and common areas.
Solution: IQAir CleanZone 5100 systems for medical suites, IQAir HealthPro Plus systems in offices
Shortly after receiving a call for help, IQAir assigned a team of IQAir Commercial Solutions Field Specialists to assess the need and determine the most appropriate air cleaning solution for the facility. The IQAir team provided multiple technology configurations, and then worked with the medical examiner’s staff to tailor a customer solution that worked best for the client.
The team of experts recommended installing three IQAir CleanZone 5100 medical-grade air-cleaning systems for the autopsy suite and an additional system in the surgical suite. The CleanZone 5100 features IQAir’s patented HyperHEPA filtration, which is proven and certified to be effective against ultrafine particles – including viruses. Each of the CleanZone systems will run 24 hours a day/7 days a week, offering maximum protection and continuous air cleaning even when the staff are not present.
In addition, 25 stand-alone IQAir HealthPro Plus room air purifiers were placed in surrounding staff offices and common areas. These units were programmed to begin cleaning the air an hour prior to staff arrival and continue running until after staff has left each evening.
Working closely with the staff of the medical examiner’s office, IQAir coordinated all logistics for shipment and installation. To ensure smooth and easy installation, IQAir tested each piece of equipment prior to shipment and again after it was delivered.
Results: A continuous supply of medical-grade air
The IQAir systems installed in the Broward County medical examiner’s office provide a steady supply of medical-grade air, removing more than 99.5% of all airborne contaminants down to 0.003 microns in diameter. This includes removal of airborne viruses, bacteria, mold spores, ultrafine particles and other airborne contaminants that trigger allergies and could put the health of staff members at risk. Since the IQAir technologies were installed, there has been a decline in respiratory problems and allergies among staff members. The office’s chief of medical examiner operations says IQAir’s patented HyperHEPA filtration has provided a level of protection and indoor environmental quality that is appropriate for a world-class medical examiner’s office.