IVF Lab Air Purity Quiz – How Does Your Lab Score?

You can’t always smell air contamination.


The next time you’re in your laboratory, close your mouth and inhale. Did you smell anything but clean air? If you did smell anything, it’s negative and can impact your patients. The smell means that contaminants have entered the lab and are certainly going to affect your embryogenesis. But guess what? Even when you can’t smell anything…it’s still possibly bad. Anything obvious that you can smell easily—like perfume, smoke, mildew, cleaning supplies—represents parts-per-million in air saturation and is not acceptable air quality for the in vitro culture of the human embryo. Parts per million levels of contamination are almost certainly affecting your success rates whether you know it or not. Unfortunately, it’s worse than that. It’s parts-per-billion that you must worry about. You can’t smell that level of contamination, but it’s there—and it’s surely affecting your embryos and clinical outcomes. What smells like clean air to you can actually be contaminated. Air contamination comes from three sources: (1) the outside air, (2) recirculated air within your lab and associated procedure rooms, and (3) the air provided by your air handling/HVAC system. Contamination can be introduced from any of these three sources and enter your lab to potentially impact your embryogenesis.

People are part of the problem too!

Your lab’s staff are shedding particulates, viruses and bacteria. A gowned healthcare worker—with booties, cap, mask, proper scrubs—just sitting still, has been documented in published metrics to shed 50,000 micrograms/m3 of acetone per day; 45,000 micrograms/m3 of ethanol; 75,000/m3 of methanol—and the list goes on.

Recognize some sources of contamination near your lab


LifeAire’s founder, Dr. Kathryn C. Worrilow, offers the following simple list of questions to ask your IVF team, to raise visibility to potential threats and start a conversation about whether the air in your lab is indeed pure enough to support successful human embryogenesis that will maximize the outcomes you and your patients hope to achieve.

Take the Quiz

(try this around your lunch table!)

External Contamination Sources

  • Is there any new construction within 1000 yards (1/2 mile) of your facility?

  • Is there a factory or furnace within 1000 yards (1/2 mile) of your facility?

  • When outside of your practice, can you smell any of the following?

    • Cooking oil from a nearby restaurant?

    • Waste management, restaurant or generator exhaust?

    • Cigarette smoke?

    • Tar or road resurfacing or rooftop resurfacing?

    • Fertilizer from nearby farms?

    • Pesticide treatment?

    • Seasonal pollutants?

    • Idling engines from waiting ambulances, medivac or nearby traffic?

    • Lawn cutting? Sports field maintenance?

    • Smoke from a nearby forest fire, tire fire, etc.?


Internal (Lab) Contamination Sources

  • Are there any water stains on the lab’s ceiling tiles?

  • Do you smell adhesives from new carpeting?

  • Do you share return air with another space?

  • Do you have fiberglass floor tiles?

  • Do you have cabinets or furniture made of MDF?


Internally-Connected Facilities

  • Has an exterminator been in your building or a nearby building in the last 3 months?

  • Do your clinical neighbors use cleaning products or alcohols?






  • Are you smelling cologne or perfume on your patients or staff?

  • Does anyone on the team smoke?


What’s your score?


OK, kind of a trick question here. Honestly, if you answered anything other than zero (0), you should be alarmed. The above list is only partial and represents a threat to your embryos and their potential. HEPA, UV lights and carbon filtration might not be properly protecting your lab.

Start a conversation about air.


Talk to us for answers. LifeAire defined the airborne metrics optimal to support the IVF culture environment—critical to maximizing the clinical outcomes within your IVF laboratory that your patients expect and deserve. Let us share insight into what your lab can do to improve your air purity—and in turn—maximize your success rates.

LifeAire’s mission is helping IVF labs become successful


The air serving your in vitro culture environment is dynamic in nature and is influenced by the outside source air, materials used in the laboratory, laboratory protocols, staff, the HVAC design relative to your critical points of process, and all associated HVAC upstream equipment. Subtle levels of airborne VOC and biological contaminants can be impactful to successful human embryogenesis and clinical outcomes – proper mechanisms of filtration physics must be used to comprehensively remediate, remove and control the airborne pathogens. LifeAire’s rapidly-growing client list includes some of the world’s leading facilities, including Stanford University Medical Center, Northwestern University Medical Center, University of Connecticut Health System, Wake Forest Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic.

Contact us to schedule an exploratory meeting. We’ll talk to you about airborne threats and what your clinic can do to address them.