Air Quality Monitoring during High-Level Biocontainment Ground Transport: Observations from Two Operational Exercises

Audrey Dang, Brent Williams, William D. Warsing, Michael Noone, Alexander P. Isakov, David Tan, Stephen Y. Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Stretcher transport isolators provide mobile, high-level biocontainment outside the hospital for patients with highly infectious diseases, such as Ebola virus disease. Air quality within this confined space may pose human health risks. Methods: Ambient air temperature, relative humidity, and CO2 concentration were monitored within an isolator during 2 operational exercises with healthy volunteers, including a ground transport exercise of approximately 257 miles. In addition, failure of the blower unit providing ambient air to the isolator was simulated. A simple compartmental model was developed to predict CO2 and H2O concentrations within the isolator. Results: In both exercises, CO2 and H2O concentrations were elevated inside the isolator, reaching steady-state values of 4434 ± 1013 ppm CO2 and 22 ± 2 mbar H2O in the first exercise and 3038 ± 269 ppm CO2 and 20 ± 1 mbar H2O in the second exercise. When blower failure was simulated, CO2 concentration exceeded 10 000 ppm within 8 minutes. A simple compartmental model predicted CO2 and H2O concentrations by accounting for human emissions and blower air exchange. Conclusions: Attention to air quality within stretcher transport isolators (including adequate ventilation to prevent accumulation of CO2 and other bioeffluents) is needed to optimize patient safety.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • air quality
  • biocontainment
  • Ebola virus disease
  • emergency medical services
  • transport isolator

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