Studies of ventilation efficiency in a protective isolation room by the use of a scale model

John W. Marshall, James H. Vincent, Thomas H. Kuehn, Lisa M. Brosseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess the ability of a protective isolation room ventilation system to reduce patient exposure to airborne infectious agents, using a small-scale model that permits cost-effective and unobtrusive study of relevant indices of performance. DESIGN: A one-half scale model of a protective isolation room at the University of Minnesota Hospital was constructed and equipped for tracer gas experiments to assess ventilation efficiency. MEASUREMENTS: Tracer gas (SF6) was injected into the model supply air. Tracer gas concentration was recorded over time and analyzed to determine local and room mean age of air. Age of air is a direct measurement of ventilation efficiency and can be used to predict patient exposure to contamination. RESULTS: Although for the room taken as a whole, ventilation efficiency was close to 50% (a value corresponding to perfect mixing), the experimental results for the local mean age of air indicate that some parts of the model were ventilated much better than others. CONCLUSION: Room air exchange rate is only one parameter useful in assessing ventilation in patient areas. Effective distribution of ventilation air also is critical to the control of airborne contamination. Areas of the room with poor ventilation would be expected to have higher concentrations of airborne infectious agents and other contaminants. Patient exposure can be minimized by placing the patient in well-ventilated areas of the room. Improved ventilation designs may reduce patient exposure further without increasing actual airflow rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-10
Number of pages6
JournalInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996


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