The quality of the air in laboratories and clinical procedure rooms can have enormous adverse effects upon embryo quality. 

Quality of air in the clinical embryology laboratory is considered critical for high in vitro fertilisation (IVF) success rates.

Pollutants can settle on work surfaces and dissolve in aqueous solutions of embryo culture medium and even more so in the lipophilic oil overlays. The vulnerable embryos cannot protect themselves against these environmental contaminants.

Studies have shown that aldehydes and other noxious compounds are present in the IVF laboratories and also in the incubators.

Controlling air quality in an IVF laboratory has shown beneficial effects regarding fertilisation and embryo development

Hazardous components in air can come from many sources 

Air in urban areas can contain high levels of pollutants such as;

  • carbon monoxide
  • nitrous oxide
  • sulphur dioxide
  • heavy metals.

Likewise, indoors, construction materials, MDF (medium-density fiberboard), PVC flooring, paints and adhesives constitute the major source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

National Health and Safety Authorities recommend safe limits of VOC exposure for humans and give guidelines for building ventilation, but there is little evidence in the IVF literature of the toxicological effect from these substances on embryos in vitro.

Controlling air quality in the ivf lab has beneficial effects on results

The EU directive 2004/23/EC stipulates air quality requirements when human tissue and cells are handled. A critical point is clean air, which has let to centres making - at the very least - slight structural changes to their IVF units.


Head over to monitoring toxic gases within a laboratory environment to find out more about the potential dangers and the impact VOCs, have within hospitals, cleanrooms and laboratory environments.