NICU Standard 19: Ceiling Finishes
Ceilings shall be easily cleanable and constructed in a manner to prohibit the passage of particles from the cavity above the ceiling plane into the clinical environment.
The ceiling construction in infant rooms and adult sleep areas and the spaces opening onto them shall not be friable and shall have an average noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of 0.85 and a ceiling attenuation class (CAC) minimum of 293.
Interpretation: In the NICU, because ceilings provide the largest area for absorbing sound, acoustic tiles as a ceiling finish material can contribute to the quality of the sound environment. To have a significant effect, an NRC of 0.90 for at least 80% of the surface area or an NRC of 0.85 for 100% of the surface is required along with a CAC minimum of 29 as a barrier to airborne sound transmission. As sound abatement is a high priority in the NICU, acoustical ceiling systems are desirable, but must be selected and designed carefully to meet this standard.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxic substances (PBTs) such as cadmium are often found in paints and ceiling tiles and should be avoided. Specify low- or no-VOC paints and coatings.