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Anterooms and Negative Pressure
Anterooms are used in hospitals and laboratories to keep contaminates from spreading to other spaces. They are critical in the containment of contaminated air that poses hazards to patients and workers. Negative pressure is integral in the process of creating an anteroom, but an anteroom is not necessarily a negative pressure space.
What is an Anteroom?
An anteroom is a small room that people enter before entering a larger room. While anterooms are instrumental in reducing transmission of infectious diseases in hospitals, there are other contaminants to consider, for example, those produced by construction. These airborne particulates pose a risk of infection to patients and reduce the quality of air breathed in during a critical time of recovery and recuperation. So, in the case of construction or renovation in a hospital, including upgrades or changes to HVAC systems, an anteroom helps to control airflow between the renovation area and occupied patient spaces. This is critical to infection control and studies show that anterooms reduce the amount of hospital acquired infections (HAIs).
The concept of an anteroom is very simple but vital to the health of patients. People enter an anteroom prior to entering a patient area. If the anteroom is negatively pressurized, workers can remove PPE and work cloths to avoid contaminating patient areas.
In the case of laboratories that may be working with chemicals or pathogens in critical containment areas, an anteroom separates them from other areas of the facility, like offices and break areas.
How to Pressurize an Anteroom
As mentioned previously an anteroom is not always a negative pressure space. There are various methods for constructing and managing anterooms in hospitals or laboratories. When anterooms are used for pharmacies and isolation rooms, it is not always apparent how the anteroom should be pressurized in relation to the adjoining room or hallway.
Where Airborne Infection Isolation (AII) rooms in hospitals are concerned, these spaces are designed to be negatively pressurized in relation to an anteroom or hallway. So, the anteroom can be positive or negative to the hallway and still ensure negative pressure to the patient room.
If the goal is to protect staff and normal patient care spaces from infectious pathogens, then a “cascading” pressurization technique is employed. This is where an anteroom is designed to be negative to the hallway and positive to the patient room. So, the directional airflow through these zones comes from the hallway to the anteroom and then into the patient room.
How is Negative Pressure Achieved?
Supply airflow devices like Venturi Valves or VAV Boxes are used to achieve negative pressure. Exhaust devices are generally not required in anterooms where a basic balancing damper can achieve efficient exhaust airflow when connected to the exhaust in a patient room.
How to Monitor Negative Pressure
Establishing negative pressure is one thing, but some facilities struggle with managing it. This is where our product, Rooster™ Pressure100, comes in. The Rooster™ Pressure100 monitors, pressure at the room level and signals with an alarm if pressure falls outside the set threshold. The Rooster™ Pressure100 air pressure monitor and alarm can verify negative pressure prior to placing a room into service and provide continuous monitoring of the room thereafter. The Pressure100 is a plug and play system, fast to set up, and easy to use. With a glove-friendly, color touchscreen for configuring alarm set points and output behavior, the Pressure100 alarms audibly and visually, and can also be easily integrated into your laboratory or building management system. The Pressure100 displays real-time air pressure and conveys safety by updating the color of the background screen. Critical alarms are augmented with a blinking LED. In addition to air pressure and pressure mode, the Pressure100 monitors and displays temperature and relative humidity, and features data logging export via the built USB port for your documentation and compliance record keeping.