The case for humidification and dehumidification in hospital procedure rooms — particularly operating rooms — is a neverending debate of have’s and have-not’s. Many acute care facilities see it as cost-prohibitive to install a complete humidification system in certain climates only to use it for one short week a year. And yet a hospital’s most critical areas, including operating and isolation rooms, require precise humidity control year round regardless of outside temperature and humidity conditions.
Per NFPA 99, the National Healthcare Facilities Code, humidity shall be maintained between 30% and 60%. This range is the topic of debate — ASHRAE, ASHE, and other health care governing agencies say a lower rh of 20% can still meet the needs of most of today’s procedure rooms. Additionally, because global weather patterns are evolving to include more droughts, extreme colds, and storms, specifying engineers are finding they can rely less and less on historical weather data to determine the need for humidification in acute facility design. Together, these issues have led to the inclusion of humidification systems in most hospitals as a best practice.