Solid wall construction reduces pathogen risk from healthcare cavity walls

Construction in the healthcare sector is a complex prospect thanks to the unique challenges the sector presents. There are considerations that do not feature in other areas of construction that require careful thought from the start.

For example, Specwall is in the process of further research, with the assistance of Innovate UK, into the effects of concealed cavity walls which form an intrinsic part of drywall construction. It is possible that in the healthcare sector these cavities may present a risk.

The unventilated spaces created by drywall and plasterboard partitioning systems can cause a number of threats to the long term health and safety of occupants.

The initial construction process itself will contain debris and dust which persists in these unventilated spaces. It is impractical to clean cavities before, during and after construction which means the impact of these leftover particles must be considered.

Normally, these might not present a large risk, but in a healthcare building the risk is different and must be considered as a side effect of using cavity walls in this type of construction.

Related to this is the danger that cavity walls in healthcare buildings may harbour harmful bacterial pathogens and promote the development of microscopic mould growth thanks to the lack of ventilation.

This can be dangerous to people with underlying conditions if the wall is then pierced at a later date and either pathogens or mould are released. For instance, if a trolley or bed collides with a plasterboard wall, it can cause an opening and the air that is released can potentially endanger patients.

During the lifecycle of a hospital or other healthcare building it is virtually impossible to avoid these kind of incidents or other similar holes from drilling or other maintenance works. You can’t legislate against this type of incident from day to day, and that means that using cavity walls might introduce an unavoidable risk of bringing contaminated air into a medical environment and spreading respiratory infections in the future.

Instead, a different path forwards is to avoid this risk altogether by using a different type of wall system. Specwall’s solid wall system eliminates any risk by removing the need for a wall cavity in the first place and therefore eliminating areas of unventilated air from the healthcare building.

Research is ongoing, but it is likely that in the future plasterboard and similar drywall systems will be seen to present and unacceptable risk in healthcare buildings. Architects, specifiers, developers and contractors can avoid this risk and ensure their building is future-proof by choosing Specwall’s solid wall system.

Get in touch with the technical team today to find out more.

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