Indoor Air Quality

According to the WHO,
air pollution is responsible for
seven million deaths per year

91% of the global population are breathing polluted air which is being increasingly linked to a growing number of serious illnesses. Ambient air pollution increases the risk of diseases in the heart and lung and can reduce life expectancy.

The time we spend indoors

Those who live in cities and built up areas can spend up to 90% of their time indoors. When we step into a modern air conditioned building we cannot see what’s in the air, most of us would assume that the air in that building is clean and hygienic. So how is it that despite spending up to 90% of our time indoors, away from outdoor pollution, that so many of us are still being affected by poor air quality?

What’s getting inside

The air outside may be thick and foggy with air pollution compared to inside but the air indoors is two to five times more polluted than outdoors with the addition of other contaminants. Such as smoke, mould spores, paint chemicals, formaldehydes, radon, ozone, cleaning and varnishing fumes, air fresheners, personal fragrances and humidity, all of which are known to be potentially harmful to human health.

Direct impacts on health

These pollutants can cause any number of respiratory, skin and neurological issues. Scientists are increasingly linking these issues with poor and polluted indoor air that we breathe almost all day and night. Often occupants may mistake these symptoms with a cold or even flu. However, a key difference is that these symptoms are often alleviated when the occupant leaves the building. 

Just some of the long list of symptoms include

Fatigue and body aches

Nausea, dizziness and forgetfulness

Congestion and breathing difficulties

Tightness in the chest

Throat, eye and nasal irritation

Allergy like symptoms

Dry and itchy skin

Headaches and ‘foggy’ head

Fever and chills

Poor air quality has a negative impact not only of the occupant’s health but also their productivity.

Economical impacts

Along with the obvious impact on occupant’s health and wellbeing, there are real economic consequences. In another recent study, a survey of 100 office buildings in America, 23% of office workers experienced frequent symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome. The full impact was hidden in sick days, lower productivity and medical costs. The economic impact is enormous, with an estimated decrease in productivity of around 2% nationwide, this is adding up to an annual cost to the United States of approximately $60 billion.

Thermal comfort

Green Building Consultants and Architects across Asia, Australasia and Africa are increasingly designing Electronic VAV diffusers into their sustainable building projects. At the outset, the capital savings from the reduction in ductwork and BMS installations can be significant. Throughout the life of the building, electronic VAV diffusers help to maintain a consistent and comfortable temperature in zones of occupancy. This eliminates any uncomfortable thermal conditions which are proven to affect productivity in the workplace.

Monitoring indoor air quality

Filtration levels are always considered within the air handling system but how do we know if it’s effective? Future buildings should consider air quality monitoring systems which, incorporated within the building services design can detect a wide array of commonly found air pollutants.

Working as an integral part of the ventilation system, these sensors should be able to identify an issue before Sick Building Syndrome occurs, increasing airflows and filtration and alerting facilities maintenance teams.

The initial cost of such systems can be considered high by developers or landlords, or maybe even a luxury, but if we consider the ongoing savings in improved productivity, reduced sickness, improved morale, employee retention and improved planned maintenance.

Global awareness and change

Since the first United Nations conference on climate change nearly fifty years ago, the world has changed. Huge progress has been made in raising global awareness on sustainability.

Air Pollution is now recognised as a global threat to people, animals and our environment and over the decades this has led building designers to continuously look towards sustainably driven companies for more sustainable products to go into their buildings.

The air movement market has also progressed considerably since 1972. With the introduction of high efficiency fans, higher filtration, demand control, advanced thermal comfort technologies and air sensing technologies our industry is playing a big role in assisting designers of sustainable buildings to provide Sustainable Air Movement solutions.

Our vision is to provide you with high levels of air quality, which ultimately will eliminate Sick Building Syndrome and take us forward into a healthier and more productive future.

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