Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) makes the headlines

30th September 2016

In August, leading Building Services trade publication, H&V News, held a question time to discuss Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), a topic that has hit the headlines on a number of occasions so far this year. Sponsored by Envirovent, Nuaire, Vent-Axia and Airflow Developments, the event saw a hundred-strong audience taking part in the debate.

As a company that supplies IAQ monitoring and treatment, the topic is of particular interest to Guardian. Here’s an overview of the issues raised:

IAQ problems:

Building occupants, whether in a domestic, public or commercial setting, need educating about the dangers of IAQ, common sources include:

  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Formaldehyde
  • Radon gas
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Chemical pollutants, such as cleaning products and pesticides
  • Condensation and mould – something that one in five UK homes suffers with

Installer training:

Installers must be trained effectively to ensure ventilation is sufficient, particular as modern sealed buildings mean air flow can be an issue. To address installer skill levels, BEAMA, with its ventilation group members, is introducing a competent persons’ ventilation installer training scheme, similar to the Gas Safe Register.

Local authority education:

It was suggested that Local Authorities also need educating; many don’t know if their schools use air filters and few hospital comply with indoor air standards, for example.

Employer education:

Business managers in offices and other commercial buildings require better knowledge too. Employers need to be responsible for ensuring good IAQ for their employee’s welfare. The current IAQ problems were likened to when issues with asbestos were first identified 40 years ago; if not addressed now, we may see problems with ill health and businesses being sued further down the line.

Regulations and legislation:

Part F – deals with the ventilation requirements in building regulations. Originally devised to simply look at moisture build-up in buildings, it has since evolved and expanded to become a set of standards about occupant health in buildings.

In 2010, changes to Approved Document F and Part F saw new sets of standards for more airtight homes, with requirements placed on installers for commissioning and measuring airflow rates from mechanical ventilation systems. DCLG is currently undertaking research to look at the effectiveness of these changes.

In general, it was acknowledged that there was no shortage of legislation relating to air quality: the Clean Air Act, and countless standards for the location of ventilation and emissions created by different products (glued, laminated timber, for example). Technical information isn’t lacking, it’s just ensuring it’s applied properly and that people are held accountable for compliance.

Industry initiatives:

Owing to the importance of IAQ, our sector and the Government has launched a number of initiatives to improve the situation in both domestic and commercial/public buildings, such as BEAMA’s campaign, ‘My Health My Home’, designed to boost public awareness of IAQ:, and specific moves to improve air quality in London, one of the UK’s poor air hot spots.

In general, it was felt that air quality was now high on the political agenda. The end of 2015 saw the Paris Agreement and air pollution was debated for the first time at the World Health Assembly, with a plan endorsed by the World Health Organisation to tackle air pollution.

Guardian’s role:

Guardian can help maintenance managers and employers ensure occupant health and productivity, by providing IAQ assessment, duct and ventilation cleaning and maintenance, which will assist in the fight against poor air quality; from offices, to hospitals and schools. For more information, click here.

To download the full H&V News report, click here