Improve ventilation in schools to avoid failing the IAQ test

The importance of good ventilation within schools has been recognised for many years however, there are a number of schools that are still failing to meet the most basic levels of indoor air quality (IAQ).IAQ in schools

As the Government strives to achieve its’ carbon reduction targets, there has been a shift towards “zero-leakage” and airtight buildings have become standard across the building industry. With the focus on making buildings more energy efficient, it has been said that this is responsible, at least in part, for a legacy of poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

Worryingly, the problem seems most serious in schools; and with growing evidence now showing that there are links between outbreaks of winter flu and poor classroom IAQ it has naturally given rise to serious concerns about the long-term health implications for children. Part of the problem is that the unique design and use of school buildings can exacerbate the impact of poor quality indoor air. Asthma, for example, is a well-known risk of indoor air pollution, but it is also a risk that grows as space becomes more densely packed with individuals. And educational facilities tend to be particularly densely populated.

Poor ventilation is a serious issue, excessive condensation can cause mould growth, leading to cosmetic and structural damage to the fabric of the building, which can lead to extremely poor IAQ. This then causes potential health issues for the buildings occupants.

In recent years, the health effects of poor IAQ have been gaining increased attention. Air pollution (both indoor and outdoor) has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and serious respiratory conditions. In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer — an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified air pollution as a Group 1 human carcinogen. WHO estimates that indoor air pollution — the result of harmful particles within indoor environments, as well as outdoor pollutants that seep inside — was responsible for some 4.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012. Continue reading

What’s air pollution like around here? [SlideShare Presentation]

City centre air quality is typically above WHO annual warning levels for PM2.5 and NO2. The opportunity for improvement is great.

If your building has mechanical ventilation, ask if it uses regularly maintained, low energy, air filters complying fully with British and European standard BS:EN 13779.

To find out more about pollution and indoor air quality, download the following presentation


Protecting your workplace from the harmful effects of air pollution

Suddenly we are all hearing about air pollution. Last week, vulnerable people, with heart and lung conditions, were advised to “avoid strenuous activity” as levels of tiny but dangerous (PM 2.5) particles in the air reached the maximum level on the Government’s official scale.  Like much of Europe, the UK is falling short of EU pollution reduction targets and is unlikely to meet them in next 10 years.

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In new estimates released recently, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.

In particular, the new data reveals a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer. This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

The new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also upon better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology. This has enabled scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes rural as well as urban areas.

The Kings College air quality website now has an interactive website that enables anybody living in London to enter their work or home post code and get a personal colour coded map to show annual levels of PM2.5 fine combustion particulates and associated gas phase pollution such as Nitrogen Dioxide.   An example is shown below for the City area of London.

annual pollution map

Ref. Kings College; http://www.londonair.org.uk/london/asp/annualmaps.asp?species=PM25&LayerStrength=50&lat=51.5008010864&lon=-0.124632000923&zoom=14 Continue reading