Environ Sci Technol. 2020 Aug 26. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.0c03247. Online ahead of print.
The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 has made us all think critically about hospital indoor air quality and the approaches to remove, dilute, and disinfect pathogenic organisms from the hospital environment. While specific aspects of the coronavirus infectivity, spread, and its routes of transmission are still under rigorous investigation, it seems that a recollection of knowledge from the literature can provide useful lessons to cope with this new situation. As a result, a systematic literature review was conducted on the safety of air filtration and air recirculation in healthcare premises. This review targeted a wide range of evidence from codes and regulations, to peer-reviewed publications, and best practice standards. The literature search resulted in 394 publications, of which 109 documents were included in the final review. Overall, even though solid evidence to support current practice is very scarce, proper filtration remains one important approach to maintain the cleanliness of indoor air in hospitals. Given the rather large physical footprint of the filtration system, a range of short-term, and long term solutions from the literature are collected. Nonetheless, there is a need for a rigorous and feasible line of research in the area of air filtration and recirculation in healthcare facilities. Such efforts can enhance the performance of healthcare facilities under normal conditions or during a pandemic. Past innovations can be adopted for the new outbreak at low-to-minimal cost.