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How Outdoor Air Quietly Shapes the Air Quality Inside Your Facility


In your healthcare facility, indoor air quality (IAQ) is at the top of your mind when it comes to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for your patients, staff, and visitors and meeting compliance standards. Poor IAQ can lead to various health issues like respiratory problems, cognitive impairments, and other more sinister effects. While measuring and optimizing indoor air quality is critical to reaching safety standards and compliance, there’s a third element that is often overlooked — your indoor air quality is heavily dependent on the quality of the air outside your facility. 

Modern facilities navigating this challenge must understand how indoor and outdoor air quality play off of one another and effective strategies facility managers can put into place to maintain a safe and healthy environment. 

The Invisible Impact of Outdoor Air

Your facility’s interior HVAC is pulling air from the outdoors around the clock and then filtering, venting, and moving that same air through every part of your indoor medical center. When the quality of the outdoor air is low — due to pollution, dust, or any number of other factors — your indoor air starts at that baseline. 

Outdoor air pollution is a significant public health concern in general, but it also has a direct impact on the IAQ of healthcare facilities. Depending on where you are in the world and what kind of area your facility calls home, you may experience different levels and causes of outdoor pollution — whether from transportation, agriculture, or manufacturing. Common outdoor pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde, can permeate indoor spaces, potentially leading to respiratory problems, allergies, and even severe health conditions like heart disease and lung cancer. 

Assessing Outdoor Air Quality

When you’re responsible for the IAQ of your facility, it’s important to begin by understanding and monitoring the quality of outdoor air in your area. By completing regular assessments, you can help identify the levels of various pollutants and inform necessary adjustments to your facility's air management systems. Once you understand what your facility is up against, you can powerfully make smart decisions about how to improve the air quality for your entire facility from there. 

3 Simple Strategies to Keep Air Pollution at Bay

Keeping outdoor pollutants at bay is no small task, particularly in a large-scale medical center environment. To keep these outdoor pollutants out of your indoor environments, you’ll need to create a strategic approach, including some or all of the techniques below. 

  1. Reinforcing Building Seals: This involves inspecting and upgrading the seals around windows, doors, and other potential entry points. Effective sealing reduces pollutants by creating a tighter barrier, preventing outdoor contaminants from easily entering the indoor space.
  2. Improving HVAC System Filters: Upgrading the filters in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems is crucial. Higher-quality filters, such as HEPA filters, can trap finer particles, including many common outdoor pollutants. Regular maintenance and filter replacement ensure the system continues to function effectively in filtering out contaminants.
  3. Installing Air Purification Systems: Air purifiers that are specifically designed to target external pollutants offer an additional layer of protection. These systems work by actively removing pollutants from indoor air. When selecting an air purification system, it's important to choose one that is capable of filtering the specific types of pollutants prevalent in the outdoor environment of the building.

By integrating these strategies, buildings can significantly reduce the penetration of harmful outdoor pollutants, thus ensuring healthier IAQ for the entire facility.

Proactive Solutions for Superior Indoor Air Quality


In healthcare facilities, patients are particularly susceptible to airborne contaminants, often being both the sources and recipients of pollutants such as infections, viruses, and other diseases. Equally, building staff, while less vulnerable, face risks due to their proximity to patients. Certain safety measures are essential to safeguard everyone within these environments. These include strict hand-washing practices, meticulous glove-wearing, and the proper disposal of medical waste. Additionally, the building's infrastructure plays a major role in IAQ. Factors like dirty ductwork, moisture in HVAC systems, and external influences like vehicle emissions and ambient air conditions significantly impact IAQ. 

Beyond the day-to-day processes that can help keep your facility safe from harmful contaminants, there are larger and highly effective measures that your team can take to ensure that even harmful outdoor air doesn’t disrupt your facility’s reputation for a healthy environment.


Effective isolation is essential to protect both vulnerable patients and those in close contact with them, especially in areas undergoing active construction or renovation. Whether you’re implementing isolation in designated isolation rooms or creating a temporary isolation space through the use of an anteroom and negative air machine, the isolated space essentially allows your facility to physically block off infectious patients, construction areas, and more. 

When it comes to keeping your facility safe from poor-quality outdoor air, isolation allows you to place other air quality measures, like high-efficiency filtration, in place for those who may be extra sensitive. 


Ventilation plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy indoor healthcare environment. By increasing the circulation of outside air, many internal air quality issues can be eliminated. This not only involves introducing fresh outdoor air but also includes carefully balancing air circulation to ensure that pollutants are effectively diluted and removed. 

The last thing that you want to do is circulate polluted air through your facility, so an effective ventilation strategy also includes potentially filtering and optimizing the quality of the air that you introduce into your facility. 


When your indoor air quality is not at the level that you’d like it to be, or you’re concerned about pollution coming from the outdoor air, filtration is your best choice to dramatically improve the quality of the air inside your facility. While you may find it helpful to employ standalone filtration units, also consider adding — or upgrading — High-efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in your HVAC system to provide an added layer of filtration to your entire facility. 

In some cases, you may also need to “filter” out excess humidity from the air along with potentially harmful particles. When the humidity outside is at high levels, your facility will feel the impact on its indoor air quality as well. Dehumidifiers can provide a layer of protection to your facility, controlling excess indoor humidity. Too much moisture creates a breeding ground for mold and other harmful allergens, so dehumidifiers can significantly improve IAQ by maintaining an optimal humidity level. 

Clearing the Air: Taking Charge of Your Facility’s Indoor Atmosphere

Improving indoor air quality starts with understanding the air coming from outside. Everything's connected, and what's outside doesn't stay there — it affects your facility too. Sorting out air quality isn't just about tweaking your ventilation or filters. It's about seeing the big picture, including outdoor air and what happens inside your walls. 

Unsure where to start? You're in the right place. To get started, download our free Ultimate Guide to Indoor Air Quality to support your journey toward safer, cleaner air in your healthcare center today. 


The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Air Quality in High-Risk Environments