I have helped set up other IVF labs and have been asked, “Can’t we just build our lab with materials that do not contain VOC’s?” My answer is that it is impossible. Modern construction materials and furniture all have VOC containing material. The stuffing in chairs can off-gas VOCs. Cabinets and furniture all have particle board in them that is held together with glue that off-gasses VOC’s for years. All IVF labs have blood testing machines. These machines all use reagents that contain VOC’s. All IVF centers use ultrasound probes that have to be sterilized and the sterilization solutions give off VOC’s. Computers in the lab give off VOCs. VOC’s are everywhere.
How can you control the air quality in the IVF lab to protect embryos?
I do tell them to at least minimize VOC containing materials in their building, but that the only way to reduce VOC’s is to filter the air, maintain at least 15% fresh air flow into the building, and constantly test for VOC’s,. Their are numerous devices on the market to test for VOC’s and many different types of filters to remove VOC’s. Most office buildings have zero percent fresh air entering the building, which makes “sick building syndrome” even worse. By having at least 15% fresh air coming into the building, VOCs that build up in the building are diluted.
At Red Rock Fertility Center, we have taken all the steps necessary to reduce our VOC levels to zero. We have a VOC meter that measures down to Parts per Billion. Most centers use detectors that only go down to parts per million. Due to the fact that Dr. Littman treats many patients who have failed at other centers and have high FSH levels, I felt it was necessary to go the extra mile and reduce our levels to zero parts per billion. In addition, we have a $50,000 air handling system that contains over 150 pounds of VOC filtering material. The air is changed in our IVF lab 50 times an hour and we have 15% fresh air entering the lab. We check VOC levels every day to ensure that our system is working at peak performance. Embryologists that have joined our center have noticed much better embryo development in our lab due to the better conditions.
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