NICU Standard 11: Ambient Temperature and Ventilation

The NICU shall be designed to provide an air temperature of 72°F to 78°F (22-26° C) and a relative humidity of 30-60%, while avoiding condensation on wall and window surfaces.

A minimum of six air changes per hour is required, with a minimum of two changes being outside air.

The ventilation pattern shall inhibit particulate matter from moving freely in the space, and intake and exhaust vents shall be situated to minimize drafts on or near the infant beds. Ventilation air delivered to the NICU shall be filtered with at least the efficiency specified in the FGI Guidelines3. Filters shall be located outside the infant care area so they can be changed easily and safely.

Interpretation: The air flow pattern should be at low velocity. Ductwork should be designed to minimize noise. Registers and their placement should minimize drafts, noise, and airborne particulate matter. A HEPA filtration system may provide improved infection control for immunocompromised newborns.

Because a regular maintenance program is necessary to assure that systems continue to function as designed after occupancy, NICU design should attempt to maximize the ease of maintenance while minimizing its cost.

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