Do you ever stop to consider just what lies in a single breath?
Each day we think about work, what we'll eat for lunch, the drink at the bar, but rarely do we consider the importance of a single breath.
We take for granted that the air we breathe is clean. But is it?
According to the analysis commissioned by the Labour Party, almost two-thirds of the UK population are breathing in toxic, illegally polluted air. An astounding 40,000 premature deaths each year are linked to air pollution.
Air pollution is the release of particles and noxious gases into the atmosphere; these emissions can be natural or manmade and have an effect on human health.
The main pollutants are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ground level ozone, particulates, sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons and lead. Each has different sources, health effects and chemical behaviours But how much of this harmful air infiltrates into our buildings?
Maintaining good indoor air quality requires attention to the building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; the design and layout of the space; and pollutant source management.
How pollutants are distributed
HVAC systems include all of the equipment used to ventilate, heat and cool the building; to move the air around the building (ductwork); and to filter and clean the air. These systems can have a significant impact on how pollutants are distributed and removed. HVAC systems can even act as sources of pollutants in some cases, such as when ventilation air filters become contaminated with dirt and/or moisture and when microbiological growth results from stagnant water in drip pans or from uncontrolled moisture inside of air ducts.
Some of the factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality may originate from inadequate HVAC design; some may be solely in the control of the building management, such as maintenance of the HVAC system and the amount of outside air being mechanically brought into the building. Others are largely in the control of building tenants and occupants, such as materials used in renovations and products and furnishings brought into or used in the building by occupants. In all buildings we are involved with, we advocate best practice in design and maintenance with regular air quality testing to uphold clean air within buildings.
Unacceptable air quality
It is important to remember that any building, no matter how well designed or operated, may experience periods of unacceptable indoor air quality due to equipment breakdown, inadequate maintenance, or in some cases, the actions of building occupants.
The good news is that most indoor environmental problems can be prevented or corrected easily and inexpensively. Success depends on cooperative actions taken by building management and occupants to improve and maintain indoor air quality.
Karsons Consulting offers expert services in environmental engineering and also air quality management. In buildings, the air we breathe depends on the various HVAC systems, their performance and operation, cleanliness of filters and various other parameters. Karsons Consulting provides an auditing role ensuring that your site is compliant and your occupants breathe as clean air as possible. For any queries on air quality in buildings, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.