Taylor calls for IAQ public awareness campaign


22 June 2023

Vice-chair of The Building Engineering Services Association's Indoor Air Quality Group, Adam Taylor, has urged the government to mount a public awareness campaign similar to those that featured celebrities highlighting the risks posed by car crashes and household fires.

Commenting at an event hosted by BESA, Taylor commented, "The annual mortality of human-made air pollution in the UK is roughly equivalent to between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths every year," he said. "Globally, household air pollution was responsible for an estimated 3.2 million deaths per year in 2020." He added that the lack of public awareness was at least partially due to the way that IAQ information is presented. "We gather lots of data, but that has to be translated into actionable insights."

Experts participating in the event called for the government to be more ambitious with policy decisions and set tougher targets for minimising indoor particulate pollution.

They reported that more studies had highlighted health problems linked to ultra-fine particulate matter since Clean Air Day 2022, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) had identified air pollution as the most significant environmental risk to health – blaming it for around one in every nine deaths annually.

Coinciding with Clean Air Day 2023, a survey by indoor climate solutions provider Zehnder highlighted that 83% of respondents wanted to know more about the air quality inside their homes, but while a sixth said they worried about outdoor pollution, just one in ten had the same level of concern about the indoor threat.

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Stuart Smith, commercial director of Zehnder Group UK, said: "Although air quality has gradually improved in recent times, air pollutant concentrations still exceed the 2005 WHO air quality guideline levels in many areas. This means they are above the levels associated with serious risks to public health."

He said the building services industry was primarily focused on addressing levels of PM 10 and PM 2.5. Still, the picture created by measuring ultra-fine particulate matter down to PM1 was "more frightening" as these tiny particles can enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. They also have a larger surface area in proportion to their size so that they can carry significant amounts of contaminants, including plastic and tiny metal fragments, into the body.

"We need to make more effort to understand the levels of ultra-fine particles in our air," added Smith. "Unlike PM2.5, PM1 is unregulated and monitoring technology is limited. We also need more research into the specific harm caused by PM1."

IAQ Group chair Nathan Wood ended the day by asking: "Would you pay more to live in an area with better air quality? Because currently, people seem to be doing the opposite by paying higher housing costs to live in the middle of our polluted cities."

To discover more information about the BESA Indoor Air Quality Group, please click here, and  here for Clean Air Day