Header image  
Report of the Eighth Census Conference on Newborn ICU Design
Committee to Establish Recommended Standards for Newborn ICU Design
Robert D. White, MD, Chair
January 26, 2012 Clearwater Beach, FL
   September 18, 2012
Standard 10 - Ambient Temperature and Ventilation

The NICU shall be designed to provide an air temperature of 72F to 78F (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.

Fresh air intake shall be located at least 25 feet (7.6 meters) from exhaust outlets of ventilating systems, combustion equipment stacks, medical/surgical vacuum systems, plumbing vents, or areas that may collect vehicular exhausts or other noxious fumes. Prevailing winds or proximity to other structures may require greater clearance.

Interpretation: Heat sources near the exterior wall, if applicable, should be considered to ameliorate the "cold wall" condition, which in turn can be a source of convection drafts. This application of heat may also alleviate the conditions leading to condensation on these walls.

The air flow pattern should be at low velocity and designed to minimize drafts, noise levels, and airborne particulate matter. A HEPA filtration system may provide improved infection control for immunocompromised patients.

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.


Additional Information
last updated September 19, 2012  Kathleen Kolberg, University of Notre Dame