Keeping Pollutants Out Can Increase Positive Outcomes For IVF Clinics
Due to its adverse effects on human health, air pollution also causes economic losses of 1.36% of India’s GDP per year
Air pollution in India has contributed to nearly 1.7 million premature deaths in 2019 while posing a threat to almost all the country’s population. Air quality is paramount to a good quality of life, since low air pollution assures a healthy respiratory system as well as protection from heart, lung and respiratory diseases and strokes, amongst others.
Indoor air quality becomes more significant in places like hospitals and healthcare facilities where patient wellbeing is crucial. Within healthcare facilities, air quality plays a critical role when dealing with in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures where temperature, pH, oxygen concentration, humidity, etc. are monitored closely. Multiple studies show that long-term exposure to pollution could contribute to decreased fertility levels, negatively impact reproductive outcomes, and have an unfavourable effect on perinatal outcomes.
The importance of air quality in IVF centres
At an IVF centre, the environment plays a large role in creating successful outcomes for patients. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and PM matter are the largest contributors to indoor pollution and can adversely affect embryogenesis, implantation, and conception. VOCs — gases released from solid and liquid materials such as paints, adhesives, sealants, cleaning fluids, air fresheners, cosmetics, cigarette smoke, etc.— are detrimental to IVF processes and embryo development. To compound these adverse effects, the fine PM particles in the air - PM2.5 and PM10 - can result in asthma, lung cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as premature delivery, birth defects, low birth weight and premature death.
IVF clinics can adopt strict air quality control by measuring, monitoring, and controlling temperature, humidity, and pressure. The clinics can be constructed in a manner that minimises the introduction, retention, exposure and generation of particles and VOCs. To create an optimum environment for the best outcomes, IVF clinics can use a mix of filtered, fresh outside air and recirculated air from transfer and operating rooms inside an embryology laboratory cleanroom. The wood and furniture, equipment, clothing and cosmetics, gloves, incubators, sterile plasticware, and gloves should be chosen in line with the treatments offered and their emissions monitored at regular intervals.
IoT enabled devices for real-time clean air
Along with developing proper risk management techniques, IVF centres can also leverage technological solutions to ensure the air quality is not compromised. Internet-based (IoT) devices can monitor air quality in real-time with the help of various sensors and provide regular tracking parameters. Superior air filtration systems come equipped with sensors for gas, VOCs, laser dust, NO and NO2, CO2, temperature, and humidity. The IoT device can display periodic monitoring on a cloud-based dashboard that provides the user faster, more flexible, and higher accessibility in an environment that banks upon speed and accuracy. In a study conducted deploying a state of the art
IOT based Air Purification and measurement device at an IVF lab in India, the device resulted in bringing the VOC levels from an average of 2622 Ppb for the first 6-8 hours down below 500 Ppb, maintaining them well below 256 Ppb after a single day of operation. This resulted in a 90% reduction in VOC levels within the first 6 hours of operation and improved overall AQI. At the centre, VOCs were the most dominant pollutant, contributing 90% of the time towards high air pollution.
Clinics can also further optimise the dashboards to visualise air quality and analyse it. They can set alarms or notification systems as per their requirements to take immediate action when the air quality drops. In long-term use, smart devices can also send periodic reminders for inspection and calibration for its parts to function more efficiently. In addition to this, smart devices also have the capability of contributing to energy savings. By monitoring temperature and humidity, the ventilation, heating, and air conditioning systems can be tweaked to keep an optimum environment.
The impact of air quality on our health and the need for a clean and pollution-free environment in healthcare facilities is evident. IVF clinics need to emphasise on providing the optimal environment that enhances the procedures instead of hindering them. A systematic and planned approach with devices and tools can ensure the best outcomes for both the parents and their children.
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