With the world of work slowly opening up again, the advent of the coronavirus pandemic has caused many employers and employees to think about how they can improve their indoor air quality (IAQ).
The objective is to reduce the circulation of virus particles, but also to gain the potential health benefits of breathing in healthier, cleaner air.
Information published by a range of industry bodies and trade associations working across the European HVACR sector suggests that the EU has failed to recognise the public health risks of poor IAQ. So should we be looking at indoor air pollution in the same way we view external pollutants in the atmosphere and look to mitigate the risks to public health?
Fast-tracking new standards
Here in the UK, the British Standards Institute (BSI) has made a decision to fast track the development of a new standard focused on measuring Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ). At Mitton, we welcome that decision and are focusing our efforts on ensuring our installations match the most stringent requirements.
However, a cohesive approach is necessary to tackle the issue of indoor air pollution, particularly in the light of growing evidence suggesting COVID-19 is transmissible via droplets carried in the air. At Mitton, we fully expect this to impact the design, operation and maintenance of mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems.
We are anticipating the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), due this year, to set out Minimum Indoor Environmental Quality Performance Standards (MIEQPS) for buildings.
Be aware of VOCs
In the meantime, there are some quick and easy fixes to help improve air quality indoors. Boosting ventilation is the most appropriate, opening windows and ensuring a continuous flow of fresh air. There are other things that can contribute to improved indoor air quality. Look at potential irritants like office furniture, carpets, paints that may give off VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
VOCs are emitted invisibly as gases from liquids and solids and include a variety of different chemicals that may impact adversely on health, both long and short term. VOC concentrations indoors can be as much as 10 times higher than outdoors.
We all have a right to be safe and healthy in our workplaces – this is another positive step along the road to achieving just that.