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Mechanical ventilation and air filtration are key to protecting children

Peter Dyment, technical manager at Camfil has praised a new report on the effects of indoor air quality (IAQ) on children's health for placing a spotlight on this important topic, but stressed that natural ventilation is simply not enough, particularly in our polluted city centres.

A new report on the effects of indoor air quality (IAQ) on children's health has been released.

The report, ‘The inside story: Health effects of indoor air quality on children and young people’, is published by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. It reviews the physical and mental health effects of indoor pollutants on children and young adults up to the age of 18.

Mr Dyment commented: “IAQ's effect on children's health mustn't be underestimated – reports such as this are essential to shine a light on the issue.”

The report, which was published in January 2020, discusses both forms of ventilation – natural (or passive) ventilation and mechanical systems.

“In schools, particularly classrooms with many children, natural or passive ventilation systems could not provide the air changes required to dilute and extract high levels of carbon dioxide,” said Mr Dyment. “This is particularly the case in city centres because you have to bring outside air into the building and the only way to deliver that air is to have it cleaned sufficiently so that school children can breathe it without risk to health.”

“The reason for having good filters is because they protect the health of people by cleaning the air, so they are not exposed to harmful air pollution. That is what all the public health concern is about.”

Mr Dyment added that it's important not to just place the emphasis on inside air pollution: “That is not where the main issue is. There is obviously an accumulation of volatile organic compounds, aldehydes and large biological particles that come from people, so you do need to displace inside pollution by outside air – that's part of the ventilation process. Or you can have a recirculation system with filters to deal with bad indoor air.

“Natural ventilation brings in outside pollution. Filtration of dangerous air using mechanical systems is key. In some cases, natural ventilation alone is simply not safe.”

He concluded: “All city schools in polluted areas need to optimise their existing mechanical ventilation systems and, where necessary, upgrade the air filters to provide the necessary protection for children.”

4 March 2020

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