Contamination of Medical Gas and Water Pipelines in a New Hospital Building

Anesthesiology. 1977 Apr;46(4):286-9. doi: 10.1097/00000542-197704000-00009.


Medical gases and water were sampled and tested for purity prior to the opening of a 176-bed addition to a 450-bed general hospital. Contamination was found. In delivered oxygen, compressed air, and nitrous oxide, this consisted of a volatile hydrocarbon at an initial concentration of 10 parts per million and a dust of fine gray particulate matter. In water from new taps bacterial contamination with as many 400,000 organisms per 100 ml was present. All these contaminants were considered potential hazards to patient safety. Studies were done to help delineate the nature and origin of these contaminants. Each contaminant was eventually largely eliminated by purging the respective pipeline systems with continuous flows. Planners, builders, and responsible medical personnel must be aware of the potential for such hazards in a new hospital building.

MeSH terms

  • Central Supply, Hospital / standards*
  • Hospital Design and Construction / standards*
  • Hospitals, General
  • Oxygen / standards
  • Water Microbiology


  • Oxygen