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Campaigners eye political pressure to push for action on UK IAQ failings

HVAC specialists and a future UK government are being urged by campaigners to put greater emphasis on ensuring legal commitments to improve IAQ standards in buildings

Any new government must play a role to revise proposals in the draft Environment Bill that would enshrine indoor air quality standards into legislation, industry experts and campaigners have demanded.

Nathan Wood, chair of BESA’s Health and Wellbeing Group and the managing director of Farmwood M&E, has warned that the economic and health costs of poor air quality in the UK posed major questions for both the HVAC sectors and lawmakers around ensuring best practice.

He added that air pollution is recorded at illegal levels in 169 local authorities across the UK, according to the World Health Organisation. The annual costs to the UK economy of poor air quality are estimated at £20bn, a figure attributed to mostly due to the impacts and demand on the NHS.

Mr Wood said that these statistics represented a number of individual human tragedies, such as the death of nine year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah in 2013 following a severe asthma attack.

He said, “She lived close to one of London’s most polluted roads and her case is the subject of an ongoing High Court inquest. She could become the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as her cause of death.”

Ella’s mother, Rosa Kissi-Debrah, has since founded the Ella Roberta Foundation in memory of her late daughter, as well as becoming a high profile campaigner for improved air quality.

Ms Kissi-Debrah has also helped launch BESA’s Safe havens campaign at the group’s 2019 National Conference that aims to ensure buildings can protect the health of occupants.

The launch saw Ms Kiss-Debrah challenge the HVAC sector to play its part in reducing the risk of airborne contaminants to children and other vulnerable people in UK buildings.

Mr Word said, “She said it should not be beyond the wit of engineers to replicate their success with temperature and humidity control by improving overall IAQ. Rosa’s tragic experience should serve as a major motivation for our industry.”

“It should also remind anyone involved in designing and maintaining buildings that they have a huge responsibility for the safety and welfare of occupants. Whoever leads our new government in 2020 also has a key role to play as they have a once in a generation opportunity to enshrine IAQ in law by revising the draft Environment Bill to make sure this crucial aspect is included.”

The article is an excerpt from a feature written by Nathan Wood that is included in the December edition of H&V News. The digital edition of the magazine can be read here.

Readers can also apply to subscribe to our print edition for free here.


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