In laboratories across the globe, the quality of the indoor air can make the difference between success and failure in clinical research, testing and experiments. It is crucial that laboratories such as those that specialize in in-vitro fertilization (IVF), have pristine indoor environments because pollutants can create unseen variables, undermine control factors, and otherwise skew legitimate outcomes.
Available in the US since 1978, the method of IVF has allowed couples unable to conceive naturally, the ability to start a family. The process involves manually combining an egg with sperm outside the body, according to the American Pregnancy Association. IVF usually takes place in a lab, and it is there that air quality needs to be continuously monitored. Dirty air can have a profound effect on embryonic development.
A study published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics found that even though air quality is critical in a clinical embryology laboratory, many facilities lack the best practices needed to ensure air quality is not compromised. The study explained that there are minimal guidelines for industrial particulate standards, though this can partly be attributed to the relative newness of the practice.
Health professionals all agree that air quality is important, but there is a debate over which type of air filtration method to utilize. In an interview with Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories, Dr. Dean Morbeck said there are two ideals when it comes to air filtration and IVF.
“Some laboratories only focus on reducing particle counts, using high efficiency particulate air filters, which in theory makes for a safe environment by minimizing the risk of microbial contamination,” said Morbeck. By contrast, other labs may optimize fume extraction. He added that recent studies have shown volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are likely to cause the most damage if the appropriate clean air system is lacking.
Problems occur when a facility either does not have a clear understanding of the type of air cleaning systems they need, or believes they have suitable air-cleaning equipment on premises, when they do not.
Because these clinics are rapidly changing, so too are the requirements for clean, high-quality air. Dr. Morbeck said that further studies will help bring more attention to what he called a gap in industry standards by highlighting the need for VOC filtration, in addition to, particulate removal.
Medical facilities will always need high efficiency air cleaning systems in place to dispose of harmful particles, bacteria, fumes, and more. Clinics that specialize in assisted reproductive technologies are no different, and even though a debate exists over what type of filtration is needed, these facilities will always benefit by maintaining clean indoor air.
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