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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 21 - Furnishings

Built-in and freestanding furnishings such as cabinets and carts, especially those in the infant care areas, shall be easily cleanable with the fewest possible seams in the integral construction. Exposed surface seams shall be sealed. Furnishings shall be of durable construction to withstand impact by movable equipment without significant damage.

Furnishings and materials shall be free of substances known to be teratogenic, mutagenic, carcinogenic, or otherwise harmful to human health.

Interpretation: Countertops should have the fewest possible seams. Edges exposed to impact should be "soft" (i.e., bull-nosed). Corners created at wall or backsplash intersections should be coved. Intersections with sinks or other devices should be sealed or made integral with the top. Casework construction should not chip or flake when struck by objects in the normal routine of infant care, and should be of sufficient moisture resistance to prevent deterioration.

Furnishings in the NICU are often composite pieces made of various parts and layers of materials that are assembled with glue or adhesives. Materials and substances typically used in these furnishings often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, which is frequently found in pressed wood products including plywood and particle board. Vinyl-based laminates, which often are applied to the surface of pressed wood products, also contain VOCs such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Specify low- or no-VOC materials, including urea-formaldehyde-free adhesives, for all furnishings in the NICU.

Specifying furnishings and materials from regional sources (within a 300 - 500 mile radius) not only provides support for the local community, but also reduces the amounts of fossil fuels necessary for transport.


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