Health and Wellbeing and Indoor Environmental Quality in Buildings – A Guide to BS 40102-1:2023

BS 40102-1:2023 – Health and Wellbeing and Indoor Environmental Quality in Buildings is a new code of practice which launched in April 2023.

In this post we’ll explain what BS 40102-1:2023 entails and discuss how you can meet the new regulations in your workplace.

What is BS 40102?

This new code of practice outlines a monitoring and reporting strategy for assessing wellbeing and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of non-domestic buildings. It establishes a rating system for benchmarking the quality of the:

  • Air
  • Light
  • Thermal comfort
  • Acoustics and soundscape

With these benchmark scores, facility managers can identify any problematic areas and make any necessary improvements.

BS 40102 applies to all forms of non-domestic buildings, existing or new.

Why Has ‘Health and Wellbeing and Indoor Environmental Quality in Buildings’ Been Introduced?

The BSI Group acknowledges that previous regulations, coupled with certain commercial pressures, encouraged designers, builders, and facility managers to prioritise energy efficiency. All too often, a focus on energy efficiency means that the health and wellbeing of a building’s occupants gets overlooked. For instance, a building might be constructed with efficient insulation, but with little thought given to the quality of ventilation and light levels.

These new standards will help facility managers and others improve the IEQs of the buildings they oversee. Improving IEQ can help reduce operating costs through increasing energy efficiency. But for hospitals and other healthcare settings, addressing IEQ can help improve staff and patient health and wellbeing while contributing to infection prevention and control.

BS 40102 Air Quality Standards

When it comes to air quality, BS 40102 outlines rating systems for:

Example Indoor Environmental Quality Benchmarks

Below are the BS 40102 rating systems for two forms of particulate matter – PM2.5 and PM10.


Level Description 24 Hour Average (μg/m3)
0 Very High ≥32
1 High 16 – <32
2 Acceptable 10 – <16
3 Low 5 – <10
4 Very Low <5



Level Description 24 Hour Average (μg/m3)
0 Very High ≥68
1 High 46 – <68
2 Acceptable 30– <46
3 Low 10 – <30
4 Very Low <10


How Cairn Technology Can Help You Meet BS 40102 Regulations

We can measure the air quality throughout your healthcare setting and monitor your staff’s exposure levels to any potentially harmful substances. As well as the hazardous pollutants covered by BS 40102, we can also test for levels of sevoflurane, isoflurane, Entonox, and more. This will help you understand your risk levels so you can devise an air quality solution that works for you. Head here to learn more about our bespoke air quality monitoring services.

We also stock a range of specialist air purification systems. Our Blueair HealthProtectTM  air purifiers are fitted with advanced HEPASilent technology. This is capable of catching 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns, including PM2.5 fine air particles, as well as VOCs, dust, mould, and up to 99% of viruses and bacteria. Browse our full range of hospital grade air purifiers.

Acetic Acid Medical Uses, Hazards and Exposure Limits

Acetic acid is a clear and colourless organic liquid with a strong vinegary odour. Household vinegar is about 5% acetic acid and 95% water.

In this post we’ll examine some of the risks associated with acetic acid and discuss some of the ways you can manage these risks in your workplace.

Medical Uses for Acetic Acid

Acetic acid has many applications. In the medical sector, it can be used in the manufacture of vitamins, antibiotics, hormones, and other chemical products.

Acetic Acid Hazards

The form of acetic acid that’s widely used as a raw material and a solvent in industrial, manufacturing, medical and pharmaceutical processes and is known as glacial acetic acid. It’s a colourless and corrosive liquid at 99.5% concentration.

It’s very unlikely that any consumers, patients, or other members of the public will ever come into contact with glacial acetic acid. However, as it’s so widely used in a variety of manufacturing processes, glacial acetic acid does pose occupational exposure risks.

Acetic Acid Exposure Risks

Occupational exposure to high concentrate acetic acid through inhalation, skin contact, and eye contact can result in:

  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation.
  • Possible damage to lungs, eyes, and skin.
  • Pharyngeal edema.
  • Chronic bronchitis.

Acetic Acid Exposure Limits

Health and safety bodies set standard exposure limits for glacial acetic acid. For example, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sets a long-term workplace exposure limit (WEL) of 10 ppm or 25 mg.m³ over an eight-hour time weighted average (TWA) reference period. Meanwhile, the short-term exposure limit is 20 ppm or 50 mg.m³ over a 15-minute reference period.

How to Manage the Occupational Exposure Risks of Acetic Acid

Here are some measures that will help you manage the exposure risks of acetic acid in your workplace:

  • Wear appropriate PPE when using or transporting acetic acid (gloves, goggles, face mask). Read our full guide to the key factors you should consider when selecting PPE.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions in regard to how you store and transport acetic acid, paying particular attention to the temperature at which you store your supply.
  • Only use acetic acid in clean and well-ventilated areas. Again, the manufacturer may recommend air quality precautions to take, including the number of air changes per hour you should implement.
  • In the event of a spillage, acetic acid is fully miscible in water. So you may have to use a specialist chemical spill kit to safely clean up the spillage.
  • Any staff who’ll be handling and using acetic acid should receive full training on the possible hazards, on managing the risks, and on the steps to take in the result of a spillage.


Understand the Acetic Acid Occupational Exposure Risks in Your Workplace

Our workplace exposure monitoring services will help you identify the acetic acid exposure risks wherever your staff might work with acetic acid in your workplace. Following our expert consultation, you’ll get a detailed report and actionable advice on the measures you can take to meet your COSHH obligations and safeguard your staff’s health and wellbeing.

Learn more about our specialist workplace exposure monitoring services.


Decontamination of Endoscopes and Reusable Medical Devices

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the specific decontamination processes that should be used for endoscopes and other reusable medical devices.

Levels of Decontamination

There are three levels of decontamination for medical devices: cleaning, sterilisation, and disinfection.

Every individual piece of medical equipment carries a different level of contamination risk – low, medium, or high. The level depends on how and where a device is used, and it also determines the appropriate decontamination procedure.

Read our full guide to the three levels of decontamination for infection control.

General Principles of Decontamination of Endoscopes

  • Endoscopes come into contact with a patient’s intact mucous membranes, and they can sometimes breach gut mucosa. Endoscopes are also they’re likely to be contaminated with virulent or transmissible organisms. This means that endoscopes carry a medium to high infection risk.
  • Because of the high infection risk, endoscopes will need to be cleaned and disinfected before use. Depending on their intended use, some endoscopes may need to go through an additional sterilisation process.
  • Following decontamination, endoscopic equipment should be labelled and dated to confirm it’s clean and ready for use.
  • Decontamination of endoscopes should only be carried out by staff who have been adequately trained in the correct procedures.
  • To prevent cross-contamination, in the designated room for endoscopic decontamination, there should be a one-way flow between dirty returns and clean dispatch areas.
  • There must be clear physical separation of clean and dirty procedures and areas, with specific handling, storing, and processing procedures for each area. Ideally, there’ll be two separate rooms – a dirty room, and a clean room.

Detergents and Disinfectants for Decontaminating Endoscopes

  • To decontaminate endoscopes, use purpose-designed washers with single-use disinfectants. Start with a manual cleaning stage to ensure the endoscopes are visibly clean but note that manual disinfection processes are not suitable for endoscopes.
  • Many best practice guidelines discourage the use of aldehyde- and alcohol-based disinfectants. Such disinfectants have fixative properties, which could bind certain proteins in the endoscope channels.
  • Instead, only use detergents and disinfectants that are compatible with both the washer and the endoscope.
  • Follow the detergent and disinfectant manufacturers’ instructions exactly, paying particular attention to the temperature and concentration recommendations.

Water Used for Decontamination

  • Any water used in an endoscope washer disinfector should be free of particulate and chemical contamination, as well as any micro-organisms.
  • If your local water supply delivers hard water, you may need to add in-line water softeners.
  • Test the final rinse water at least once a week for microbiological levels.

Drying and Storing Endoscopes

  • Decontaminated endoscopes should be stored separately from dirty endoscopes, ideally in a separate room.
  • To reduce the risk of contamination, use dedicated endoscope drying and storage cabinets that are capable of delivering high-efficiency particulate filtered air (HEPA) at the correct temperature and flow rate.
  • Never use alcohol solutions to assist in drying endoscopes, due to the fixative properties.

PPE for Staff Carrying out Endoscopy Procedures

  • Any staff carrying out endoscopy procedures, along with all staff involved in endoscope decontamination, should wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • PPE procedures should advise on what PPE to use and where. They should also advise on the storage, application, and removal of equipment to reduce cross infection.
  • You can read our full guide to PPE considerations.

Effective Decontamination For Infection Control in Endoscopy

The chemicals used in decontamination procedures can be harmful to human health. So all staff involved in endoscopy must comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations wherever these chemicals are used.

Our workplace exposure monitoring services will help you identify the exposure risks for your endoscopy staff. Following the consultation, you’ll get a detailed report and actionable advice on the measures you can take to safeguard your staff’s health and wellbeing.

Learn more about our specialist workplace exposure monitoring services.

How Does Infection Spread in a Hospital?

In this post we’ll discuss how infections spread in hospitals and explore some ways you can prevent and control infections in your hospital.

Ways Infections Spread in Hospitals

Most hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) spread in one of two ways:

  • As a result of treatment.
  • From person-to-person, or via another communicable disease vector (pathogens on a surface, or in the air, for example).

You can read our guide to the most common hospital-acquired infections.

How Infections Spread as a Result of Treatment

Some hospital-acquired infections can spread as a direct result of certain medical treatments.

Examples include:

  • Surgical Site Infections (SSIs) – Invasive procedures involve making incisions in a patient’s skin. Though such procedures are performed in highly controlled sterile environments, it’s possible for incision wounds to get contaminated by microorganisms from the patient’s own body, or from outside sources.
  • Clostridium difficile infections (CDIs) – diff bacteria can exist harmlessly in the bowel. But a course of antibiotics can sometimes cause a bacterial imbalance in the gut, triggering a CDI.

How Communicable Diseases Spread in Hospitals

A patient or a member of staff might bring an existing infection into a healthcare setting such as a hospital. Or a patient may develop an infection during their hospital stay while receiving treatment for an unrelated condition.

These are communicable diseases, and they can spread in a number of ways:

  • From Person-to-Person – Coughs, sneezes, and even touches can spread viruses and bacteria from person to person. CDI, for example, is a common hospital-acquired infection because a major symptom is diarrhoea, which can act as a vector for the spread of bacteria. And of course, during the 2020 pandemic it became clear just how quickly Covid-19 can spread from person-to-person in a hospital.
  • Indirect Contact – Viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens can survive for hours, or even days, on surfaces and inanimate objects. A patient may cough or sneeze into their hand. If they then use a doorhandle or a light switch, any staff member or patient who subsequently touches that item may pick up their germs. And if they then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes, they may introduce the germs into their bloodstream.
  • Contamination – Finally, eating or drinking contaminated food or water can spread communicable diseases. E. coli, for example, is a common hospital-acquired infection, and it can be contracted from eating undercooked meat.

How To Prevent The Spread of Diseases in a Hospital

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued recommendations that could help prevent SSIs in hospitals. These include a series of steps for the preoperative phase (including showering and nasal decolonisation), recommendations for staff and patient theatre wear, and a series of checks to make both before and after the procedure. Read the full NICE guidelines for preventing SSIs here.

When it comes to controlling communicable diseases, hospitals must follow the standard infection control precautions (SICPs):

These include:

  • Patient placement – Perform a comprehensive infection risk assessment for each patient, and isolate patients with a high risk of cross-infection.
  • Hand hygiene – Follow a specific hand-washing technique to thoroughly clean your hands at key touchpoints – such as before and after interacting with a patient and their surroundings. Also advise patients to follow good hand hygiene guidelines and provide plenty of handwashing stations throughout your hospital.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) – There should be clear procedures for what PPE to use and when. You should also have procedures for storing, applying, removing, and disposing of PPE.
  • Cleaning – Commit to safe management of both care equipment and the care environment. Thorough cleaning should take place regularly and on an ongoing basis. You should also have specialist procedures for cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization in the event of outbreaks, and for high-risk equipment and environments.

Read our full guide to standard infection control precautions in hospitals and healthcare settings.

Control the Spread of Hospital-Acquired Infections

At Cairn Technology, we’ve been helping both NHS and private hospitals prevent and control infections for over 20 years.

We can help you with:

To discuss how we can help you prevent and control infection in your hospital, get in touch to talk to one of our friendly experts today.


Entonox Monitoring in Maternity Departments

Entonox – also referred to as N20, or “gas and air” – is a painkiller that’s used in multiple healthcare settings, including maternity departments. Though it provides effective short-term pain relief, there are some risks to using Entonox.

Short Term Entonox Exposure Risks

Short-term exposure to Entonox can cause dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, and hallucinations.

Long Term Entonox Exposure Risks

Long-term exposure to Entonox can affect the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12, which can cause damage to nerves and red blood cells. This can lead to neurological conditions, infertility, and even miscarriage.

How Big Are The Risks of Entonox Exposure?

If patients use Entonox only as advised, then the short-term effects should pass quickly, and there should be no long-term health risks. However, there are concerns about hospital staff’s occupational exposure to Entonox – particularly among midwives in maternity care.

Entonox Exposure Risks for Midwives

The risks are particularly high for midwives not just because of the widespread use of Entonox in maternity care, but also because of the nature of their work. It’s common for midwives to work 12-hour shifts, several days in a row. To protect patient privacy, they’ll work with the door closed, which will lead to poor air circulation. Plus, compared to other areas of the hospital, labour wards are less likely to be fitted with sophisticated air purification systems.

How to Manage the Risk of Entonox Exposure in Maternity Departments

Maternity wards should routinely test their staff for their exposure to potentially hazardous substances like Entonox.

In March 2023, the NHS released new guidance on minimising long-term exposure to nitrous oxide in healthcare settings.

The guidance suggests that hospitals should only stop using Entonox as “a measure of last resort and only following appropriate risk assessment, clinical consultation, and mitigation.” Their recommendations include:

  • Environmental ventilation.
  • Staff training on positioning relative to exhaust N20, COSHH risk assessment and controls, and training in administration of Entonox.
  • Awareness and review of monitoring results.


The efficacy of these mitigations must be demonstrated by monitoring exposure to N20.

How We Can Help You Reduce Occupational Entonox Exposure in Your Maternity Department

At Cairn Technology, we routinely support both NHS and private hospitals.

Here’s how we can help you control your staff’s occupational exposure to Entonox in your maternity department:

  • Exposure Monitoring – Cairn Technology adopt a personal sampling technique to monitor your staff’s exposure levels to N20. Once used, personal passive sampling tubes are analysed followed by a comprehensive report, including recommendations and actions you can take to reduce exposure risks in your hospital.

Get in touch to discuss how we can help you manage the risks of Entonox in your maternity department.

What Is The Purpose of Exposure Monitoring via Air Sampling?

The air in hospitals and healthcare settings can contain numerous potentially hazardous substances.

Hazardous Substances in Hospitals and Healthcare

Common hazardous substances found in hospitals might include:

Short-term exposure to these substances can cause a range of symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, headaches, tightness of chest, and breathing difficulties. Long-term exposure can result in more serious health conditions, including chronic respiratory problems, and even some cancers.

What is the Purpose of Exposure Monitoring via Air Sampling?

Exposure monitoring via air sampling ensures that hospitals and healthcare settings fulfil their COSHH obligations wherever staff are exposed to hazardous substances.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is a UK law requiring employers to prevent or reduce workers’ exposure to certain hazardous substances. The law regulates workplace exposure limits (WELs) for numerous substance.

The problem is that most of these substances are colourless and odourless. Staff and patients may get exposed to harmful quantities without even realising it. This also makes leaks harder to detect, which means staff and patients may inhale harmful substances for days, weeks, or months before anyone realises there’s a problem.

Plus, in certain healthcare settings, there may be consistently low levels of these substances in the atmosphere. Staff may experience a feeling of discomfort without quite recognising that something’s wrong. But over the long-term, their exposure to these substances may result in some serious health conditions.

Air Sampling vs. Air Monitoring

Air sampling and air monitoring are two techniques that air quality consultants might use to test staff’s exposure to hazardous substances.

What is Air Sampling?

The air quality consultant takes a sample of the air in an environment. This provides a snapshot of the air quality as it was at that time. Air quality consultants will likely take samples from numerous locations around a healthcare facility so as to identify any high-risk areas.

What is Air Monitoring?

This is a slower process that takes place over a longer period of time. Air monitoring provides insights into how the air quality in an environment changes over time, which can help air quality consultants determine the root causes of contamination events.

For more information, you can read our essential introduction to how the air quality monitoring process works.

Specialist Workplace Exposure Monitoring Services

We offer specialist workplace exposure monitoring for hospitals and other healthcare settings. We’ll help you ensure you fulfil your COSHH obligations wherever your staff are exposed to hazardous substances.

Our air quality consultants employ both continuous monitoring and personal sampling techniques. With this approach, we can demonstrate how levels in the workplace atmosphere vary over the monitoring period. We’ll then prepare a comprehensive report, including detailed discussions and actionable recommendations based on our findings.

We have extensive experience in working closely yet unobtrusively with:

  • Operating theatre departments
  • Endoscopy suites, and endoscope decontamination units
  • Pathology laboratories
  • Dental suites
  • Maternity departments
  • Fracture clinics and orthotic laboratories
  • Radiology departments

We can also monitor for traffic pollution in public areas of your hospital, including your wards and waiting rooms.

Want to learn more about our workplace exposure monitoring services? Talk to one of our air quality experts today, or get in touch for a free quote.

Why is Air Quality Monitoring Important?

Everyone knows that breathing hazardous substances or polluted air is bad for your health. But few seem to realise just how serious air pollution can be, and just how many hazardous substances can linger in the air we breathe.

Hazardous and Toxic Air Pollutants

The air can be full of hazardous and toxic air pollutants that are known or suspected to be harmful to health and the environment.

Examples include:

  • Particulate matter
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Ammonia
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Sulphur dioxide

What Causes Hazardous Air Pollutants?

Many of these pollutants are caused by human activity. Particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, for example, are created by road traffic and by certain industrial and agricultural processes. Ammonia is released by the spreading of fertilisers, and by certain waste management processes. VOCs are found in many everyday cleaning and cosmetic products.

The Impact of Pollutants on Human Health

When inhaled, hazardous and toxic air pollutants can affect human health in a number of ways.

Particulate matter, for example, can be so small that, when inhaled, they enter the bloodstream. And once they’re in the bloodstream, they may end up lodged in the heart, lungs, brain, and other organs. So prolonged exposure to particulate matter can aggravate existing conditions, including asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions.  Long-term exposure can lead to more serious, or even terminal, lung conditions.

Inhaling VOCs can also exacerbate allergies, asthma, and respiratory conditions, while causing headaches, nausea, and eyes, nose and throat irritation. VOCs can even react with certain other airborne chemicals to produce formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen.

How Widespread is Air Pollution?

According to the latest World Health organisation report, 99% of the world’s population live in areas where air pollution exceeds their guideline limits.

Air pollution can vary from place to place. We recently assessed the worst parts of the UK for air pollution, for example. The weather can also have an effect on air pollution. For instance, pollution levels may be higher in the colder months of the year.

Indoor Air Pollution

But air pollution can also affect indoor environments. High concentrations of VOCs can lead to “sick building syndrome”, whereby simply existing in a building can lead to a number of health problems.

Certain workplaces also carry unique air pollution risks. One recent report found that 25% of UK hospitals are located in areas with dangerously high levels of air pollution from traffic and industry. But inside hospitals you’ll find numerous potentially hazardous you won’t find in any other workplace, These might include Isoflurane, Sevoflurane, Penthrox, Entonox and inhalable and respirable dust.

This is Why Air Quality Monitoring is Important

Air pollution is all around us, indoors and outdoors. Even short-term exposure can lead to some serious health problems. Long-term exposure could prove fatal.

But many of the pollutants we’ve discussed in this post are colourless, odourless, or so small that they’re invisible to the human eye.

But with air quality monitoring, you can assess the levels of pollutants in your workplace. And once you understand the levels, and what might be causing them, you can act to improve the air quality for everyone.

Learn more about the work of an air quality consultant. You can also read our essential introduction to how the air quality monitoring procedure works.

Specialist Air Quality Monitoring Services For Hospitals and Healthcare

UK law regulates workplace exposure limits (WELs) for numerous substance.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is a UK law requiring employers to prevent or reduce workers’ exposure to certain hazardous substances. We offer specialist workplace exposure monitoring to help you fulfil your COSHH obligations wherever staff are exposed to hazardous substances in your hospital.

We employ both continuous monitoring and personal sampling techniques to prepare a comprehensive report that includes detailed discussions and actionable recommendations based on our findings.

A hospital grade air purifier can help you quickly and thoroughly improve the air quality in any area of your hospital. We stock a range of hospital-grade Blueair HealthProtectTM air purifiers fitted with advanced HEPASilent technology that can catch 99.97% of harmful or toxic particles down to 0.1 microns.

Want to learn more about how we can help you improve air quality in your workplace? Talk to one of our air quality experts today, or get in touch for a free quote.


Chemical Hazards in Hospitals – Examples and Control

Hazardous chemicals are common in healthcare settings. Short- and long-term exposure to these chemicals can pose health risks to staff, patients, visitors, contractors, and other members of the public.

In this post we’ll list some of the common chemical hazards in hospitals, and discuss ways you can prevent or reduce exposure levels in your hospital or healthcare setting.

Common Sources of Hazardous Chemicals in Hospitals

Some of these chemicals are used as part of treatments, either as anaesthetics or as fixatives. Others are used as part of infection prevention and control processes, to sterilise and disinfect surfaces and equipment. Some are by-products of healthcare procedures.

Hazardous Chemicals Used in Patient Treatment

Many of the hazardous chemicals used in patient treatment are used as anaesthetics. Examples include sevoflurane, isoflurane, Penthrox and Entonox. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can be harmful to health.

For example, the symptoms of sevoflurane exposure can include confusion, nausea, breathing difficulties, blurred vision, dizziness, agitation, and loss of consciousness. Prolonged exposure in the long-term can lead to liver problems, heart problems, blood haemorrhages, and asthma.

Hazardous Chemicals Used in Infection Prevention and Control

Cleaning is an essential part of infection prevention and control in hospitals. Yet many of the chemicals used in hospital-grade cleaning substances can be harmful to health. Cleaning products can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Short-term exposure to high concentrations of these chemicals can result in:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Eyes, nose and throat irritation
  • Exacerbation of allergies, asthma, and respiratory conditions

Long-term chronic exposure can increase the risk of liver and kidney damage, and even certain cancers.

Specialist healthcare decontamination procedures can also create harmful chemicals. For example, some disinfectants used in endoscopy departments are based on chlorine-containing compounds. Others are based on peracetic and acetic acid, which can be harmful if inhaled.

Hazardous Chemicals as By-Products of Treatments

The surgical smoke generated by electrosurgical devices can contain acrylonitrile and hydrogen cyanide, as well as numerous viruses and bacteria. Exposure to surgical smoke has been linked to viral infections, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, and asthma-like symptoms.

Finally, it’s common to find inhalable and respirable dust in the atmosphere of fracture clinic plaster rooms and orthotics departments. While this dust might not be a harmful chemical in itself, it is still classed as a hazardous air pollutant. Inhaling it can lead to short-term and long-term respiratory problems.

Preventing and Reducing Your Staff’s Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is a UK law requiring employers to prevent or reduce workers’ exposure to certain hazardous substances. The law regulates workplace exposure limits (WELs) for numerous substance.

We offer specialist workplace exposure monitoring for hospitals and other healthcare settings. We’ll help you ensure you fulfil your COSHH obligations wherever your staff are exposed to hazardous substances.

Employing both continuous monitoring and personal sampling techniques, we’ll prepare a comprehensive report that includes detailed discussions and actionable recommendations based on our findings.

Want to learn more about our workplace exposure monitoring services? Talk to one of our air quality experts today, or get in touch for a free quote.


What is Bioburden? And How to Control It

What is Bioburden?

Bioburden refers to the number of bacteria or fungal cells living on an unsterilised surface. The term is usually used in reference to medical devices and equipment.

A device’s bioburden level will vary depending on how it was manufactured, including the amount of handling that took place during manufacturing. The size and complexity of the device will also affect its bioburden level, as well as the material it’s made from.

How to Measure Bioburden

We measure bioburden in terms of colony-forming units (CFUs). A CFU is an estimate of the number of viable microorganisms found on a sample.

Average Bioburden Levels

Most medical devices will have a bioburden between 0 and 150 CFUs.

Why Bioburden Matters

As a standard infection control precaution, all hospitals and healthcare settings should effectively sterilise all medical devices and equipment according to the manufacturers’ recommendations.

So if you’re going to sterilise your medical equipment anyway, what’s the point of measuring bioburden?

Because the lower a medical device’s bioburden, the more straightforward it will be to sterilise. If a device has a low CFU, it will be easier to remove any toxins left over from the manufacturing process before you use it.

Also, during the sterilisation process, bacteria cells can release a harmful endotoxin. So a lower CFU ensures that the medical device will be as fast, efficient and – most important of all – safe to sterilise as possible.

How to Control Bioburden

In a hospital and healthcare setting, the biggest difference you can make is in buying from manufacturers who put the measures in place to keep their bioburdens as low as possible.

Here are some of the things medical device manufacturers can do to keep their products’ bioburdens as low as possible:

  • Ensure their cleanrooms are strictly controlled for device manufacturing, with high quality air purifiers to remove harmful contaminants from the air.
  • Commit to thorough cleaning routines, effective PPE use, and other standard infection control precautions. Manufacturers should also have policies and procedures in place to avoid overhandling products during the manufacturing process, and to keep them covered as often as possible.
  • Regularly test all production areas for both surface and air particles to measure the effectiveness of the bioburden control measures, and to make changes where necessary.

How We Can Help You Control Bioburden

We offer comprehensive sterile services cleanroom testing and monitoring services, which includes:

  • Active and passive bioburden sampling.
  • Airborne particulate sampling.
  • Instrument and hard-surface bioburden sampling.
  • Endotoxin testing of washed instruments, sterile instruments, and reverse osmosis (RO) water.
  • Air pressure differential testing – to ensure that your air purification systems are working like they should.

Learn more about our sterile services cleanroom testing and monitoring services, and get a quote for a consultation today.

We also specialise in hospital-grade air purifiers. Our Blueair HealthProtect air purifiers are fitted with advanced HEPASilent technology capable of trapping and killing 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns.

Take a look at our range of specialist air purification systems for hospitals and healthcare settings.


Air Monitoring Equipment: What Instruments & Equipment is Used?

Air quality consultants will use different air monitoring equipment depending on the type of monitoring they’re doing, and the type of pollutants they’re testing for.

In this post we’ll discuss some of the common instruments and equipment air quality consultants use, and explore the settings in which they might use them.

Types of Air Quality Monitoring

There are two main types of air quality monitoring approaches:

  • Continuous real-time monitoring – this is continuous, long-term monitoring of real-time levels.
  • Periodic monitoring – this is short-term monitoring, usually done on a regular basis – such as part of an annual monitoring regime.

The equipment used for these different forms of monitoring varies, which we’ll discuss in more detail in this post.

Continuous Real-Time Air Monitoring Equipment

Some air monitoring equipment is designed for continuous use. Consultants will install a device in a setting for a long-term period, or sometimes permanently. These devices can give air quality consultants an idea of how pollutant levels change over time, so that occupants can better understand their exposure risks.

For this sort of monitoring, air quality consultants will use dedicated systems that will usually make use of pumps to take samples from the air for testing. They might be able to view the results of their testing in real-time, or they might instead generate periodic reports as the situation requires. Different systems are usually used to test for different pollutants.

Some devices can also warn a building’s occupants if things get critical. Common examples include smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. These devices continuously monitor spaces for specific pollutants – whether that’s smoke or carbon monoxide – and sound an alarm if they detect harmful levels.

Periodic Air Monitoring Equipment

Some air monitoring equipment can provide an idea of the air quality in a given area at a given time, or over a specific period. For example, an air quality consultant might place a filter or a cannister in an area for a period of time, such as a day, three days, or a week. At the end of this period they will remove the cannister and analyse the build-up of contaminants.

Other light devices can give a more detailed reading of an area’s air quality at that specific moment in time. These devices contain a sensor and a monitor. Air quality consultants will point the sensor at the target area and receive a readout on their monitor.

These devices are useful for showing how pollutant levels vary throughout a setting. For hospitals, for example, they can demonstrate which areas are particularly at risk, to give an idea of which areas should be prioritised for air purification.

What Will an Air Quality Consultant Test For?

Air quality consultants can test for any hazardous air pollutant. This could include:

  • particulate matter
  • dust
  • carbon dioxide
  • nitrous oxide
  • sulphur dioxide
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • noise levels

In a healthcare setting, air quality consultants might test for specific pollutants including:

Book an Air Quality Consultation Today

We offer workplace air quality monitoring services, specialising in healthcare settings. We’ve helped both NHS and private healthcare settings with bespoke air quality monitoring services tailored to suit their unique requirements.

We can monitor your staff’s exposure to any potentially harmful substances in your workplace. This will help you understand your risk levels, so you can devise an air quality solution that works for you.

Find out more about our Workplace Exposure Monitoring Service, or get in touch to talk to one of our air quality monitoring specialists today.