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Parliament body demands urgent revision of air quality laws

Environmental Audit Committee calls for new legislation and Building Regulations standards that can directly address concerns around issues such as IAQ as soon as possible

Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has urged government to published air quality legislation as soon as possible to address health concerns about the impacts of pollutants on indoor environments.

A new report into ’planetary health’ from the cross-party watchdog body said it recommended fresh regulation to commit the UK to introducing legal limits of (10ug/m³) for air pollution in line with levels recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The committee said that it hoped that a more integrated approach to both sustainability and public health are included in upcoming revisions of national Buildings Regulations. This should focus on revisions to Part F and Part L of the regulations that will considser the negative impacts of indoor air pollution.

The report stated, “Air pollution (indoor and outdoor) from human activity is an increasing concern and harms public health. The Committee on Climate Change Adaptation Sub-Committee has provided expert guidance on ways to strengthen the building Regulations for new and existing housing.”

“We welcome the government’s plans to update the building regulations, including reviewing whether the current enforcement regime is effective.”

During evidence sessions looking at the role of air quality on public health, the committee said it heard from Dr Anastasia Mylona from the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) about major concerns over indoor air pollution.

Dr Mylona said in her evidence that air pollution was already creating health issues that were projected to become worse in the next few years.

She said, “This will have an effect on people’s indoor air quality, so in their homes and in the places where they work.”

The report’s warning about IAQ and pollutants in air follows findings published by several House of Commons select committees in 2018 that warned about poor air quality on health and wellbeing.

This previous report was followed by the publication of the government’s Clean Air Strategy in January that committed to legislation that would update existing regulations introduced in 1993.

The government noted at the time that the legislation would focus on more coherent approach to tackle air pollution, while also giving local authorities new powers to take action in areas found to pose higher health risks.

Ensuring that the updated legislation is in place as soon as possible was identified as a pressing concern for the Environmental Audit Committee.

IAQ standards

Earlier this month, BESA announced it was establishing a special working group to look at how health and wellbeing can be better addressed in building design that would include indoor air quality as a key focus.

The association said it will be work with other partners in the building services sector to support the BSI to introduce a new standard concerning the design, construction and longer-term maintenance of buildings that may limit negative potential health impacts for occupants.

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