From COVID-19 wards to neonatal units, hospitals must be diligent in monitoring the dew point in their medical air systems. If the dew point in a medical compressed air system is not continuously monitored and adequate steps are not taken to remove water, microorganisms can grow, having serious health implications for patients.
What Is the Dew Point?
The dew point is the temperature to which air must be cooled, at constant pressure, for water vapor to begin to condense to liquid water. When the dew point temperature has been reached, the air is fully saturated with water vapor. Any temperature drop will result in water in the system.
Risks Associated with Not Monitoring the Dew Point
Allowing dew point levels to go unchecked in medical air and gas systems can lead to the growth of Legionella bacteria, which, when inhaled, can cause serious and even deadly lung infections. In addition, high moisture levels in the medical air system can shut down patient ventilators, leading to physiological harm.
NFPA 99 Dew Point Requirements
NFPA 99 details very specific dew point requirements for both Level 1 and Level 2 Medical Air Systems.
• The medical air dryer must deliver air at a maximum dew point below the frost point 0° C (32° F) at any level of demand
• Dryers must be capable of delivering the specified dew point under peak demand to ensure that even during crisis times, the dew point can be maintained
• The dew point must be monitored upstream at the dryer’s control panel and downstream after the pressure regulators
• If the pressure dew point exceeds 4° C (39° F), an alarm should be activated
Air Dryers for Medical Air Systems
There are two main types of dryers that are used to eliminate moisture in medical compressed air systems—refrigerated air dryers and desiccant air dryers. Desiccant dryers are generally the preferred choice for healthcare facilities, in part because they work well under low-flow conditions that sometimes occur at night.
Compressed Air Dew Point Monitoring Equipment
The ENMET MedAir 2200 Compressed Airline Monitor is designed for continuous real-time monitoring of medical compressed air systems in hospitals and medical facilities. The instrument is UL and CSA certified and is capable of monitoring dew point as well as carbon monoxide, oxygen deficiency and carbon dioxide.
Lewis Systems is a medical air solutions and service provider for healthcare facilities in the Southeast and an authorized distributor of ENMET products. If you need to replace existing medical air equipment or install a new system, contact us or call your nearest Lewis Systems location in North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia to discuss your needs.