With public interest in the quality of the air we breathe at an all-time high, a new ‘Beginners Guide’ to improving Indoor Air Quality’ (IAQ) has gained the support of one of the UK’s most high-profile child health campaigners.
World Health Organisation (WHO) advocate Rosamund Adoo Kissi-Debrah has backed the Guide, which was created by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and its affiliate member Mitsubishi Electric. It is also being supported by Global Action Plan, the organisers of National Clean Air Day.
The ‘Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality’ offers advice and guidance for employees and visitors to commercial buildings and, with so many people now working from home, includes some easy tips for optimising IAQ in residential settings.
The controversy and debate around air quality has never been more heated and this has thrust the broad topic of building ventilation and air cleaning into the limelight – particularly as more people start to consider returning to offices, schools, and public buildings in the wake of the pandemic.
This digital publication is designed to give a comprehensive, but non-technical introduction to the subject and can be downloaded for free here. It is being promoted to the widest possible audience including consumers, commercial building managers, school leadership teams, policy makers etc.
The Beginner’s Guide will also be of interest to engineers and specialist firms involved in designing, commissioning, and maintaining indoor environments because it provides a useful overview of the main topic areas. It would work as a starting point for anyone looking to set up a strategy for tackling the poor IAQ that is having a detrimental impact on thousands of UK buildings and their occupants.
With an introduction from Kissi-Debrah, the Guide, which includes a wealth of information provided by BESA’s Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group, explains how the ventilation and building services industry is able to turn buildings into ‘safe havens’ to protect occupants – particularly children who face the greatest risks – from the worst impacts of contaminated air.
“This guide is an invaluable non-technical introduction to the issue of IAQ and explains how we can make our own indoor environments safer and healthier for us and our children.” said Kissi-Debrah, who is also honorary president of the BESA group.
Compiled, designed, and produced by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric, the Guide provides links to more information and organisations that can offer further advice. It is designed as a jumping off point from which anyone affected by the health and wellbeing implications of poor IAQ can engage with specialists to start addressing their problems.
It explains how good ventilation and air filtration along with accurate measuring and monitoring of particulate matter are the keys to an effective IAQ strategy. It also includes information about the main sources of air pollution and the contaminants that affect indoor spaces and explains why IAQ is often many times more damaging to human health than outdoor pollution.
“Air pollution isn’t just about the outdoor world. There are many sources of indoor air pollution that can harm health as well,” said Larissa Lockwood, director of clean air at Global Action Plan. “Studies have found that as much as 90% of the day is spent inside so it is important to consider how to create clean air indoors as well.”
Public Health England estimates the annual deal toll in the UK from air pollution at between 24,000 and 36,000 with associated healthcare costs between £8bn and £20bn.
“This guide will explain why the air you breathe inside buildings is often worse than the polluted air outside,” said Nathan Wood, chair of the BESA Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group. “It also points out how much more control we have over our indoor conditions and how we can turn our homes, offices and leisure places into ‘safe havens’ from polluted and contaminated air.
“This is particularly important now as we seek to give people confidence that they can safely return to offices and other communal buildings.”
The Beginner’s Guide also distils the main findings of healthcare research that has pinpointed the links between poor IAQ and increasing rates of asthma and other respiratory problems; and the growing threat to life posed by our increasingly polluted air.
Mitsubishi Electric’s Head of Sustainability, Martin Fahey pointed out that on average, UK residents spend up to 90% of their time inside buildings – a figure that is likely to have risen even higher during the recent lockdown periods.
“Given the hazards in outdoor air, it’s important that we can regard our homes and workplaces as safe areas that can achieve higher levels of indoor air quality with the right approach,” he said. “The technologies and expertise already exist to help, so we now need a concerted campaign to highlight the issue.
“We believe everyone has the right to breathe clean air, and that can only be achieved if we work together to raise awareness of the risks of pollution and to drive change in our legislation and behaviours.”
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