Evaluation of microbial contamination of air in two haematology departments equipped with ventilation systems with different filtration devices


Background. Nosocomial infections (NI) are above all due to health-care workers practices, but also the contamination of the environment could lead to their rise in health-care facilities. Introduction. In the last years, the incidence of NI has increased due to a substantial rise in the number of immuno-compromised patients. These patients are often gathered in hospital areas declared at ?high risk? of infection such as Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant ward. In this study, we evaluated microbial contamination of the air in two divisions with high risk patients, focusing on the validity of the air system with correla- tion to the presence or not of the HEPA absolute filters. Methods. An environmental surveillance study has been carried out in two Divisions of Haematology, in two different Hospitals. Investigations have been performed by sampling air and by analyzing bacterial and fungal growth on microbiology plates after an incubation period. Results. Unit A, without HEPA filters in the ventilation systems, showed a gradual increase in the bacterial load 20 and 60 days after cleaning of the ventilation system. Mycetes and Aspergilli were not present in basal conditions, at 20 or 60 days after decontamination. Unit B, equipped with HEPA filters placed at the inlet vents, showed extremely low values of the bacterial load either in basal conditions or upon inspection 60 days after cleaning. No mycetes were present. Discussion. From the results obtained, it was evident that fol- lowing the cleaning operation, the quality of the air is excellent in both types of equipment, since no mycetes were present and the bacterial load was inf. 20 CFU/mc in all the sites tested. However, although in subsequent controls mycetes were absent in both types of equipment, a great difference in the suspended bacterial load was found: Unit B was close to sterility whereas in Unit A a progressive increase was observed.