So... What Happens Next?

Posted in Air Hygiene on May 17, 2017


"Expect the unexpected."

Never has that old saying been more appropriate. Who would have believed we would be facing another General Election just two years after the last one? It has been one political shock after another since David Cameron (remember him?) won his unexpected majority in 2015.

Just when we could do with some calm after the storms of the EU Referendum and the Trump earthquake, we get an almighty row about the terms of Brexit and yet another punch up at the polls on June 8. However, hopefully the election and the start of the formal withdrawal process from the EU is an opportunity to draw a line under all the upheaval and move on.

The importance of bringing stability back to the political process was exemplified by the government's clumsy attempt to use the election as an excuse to delay publication of its long-awaited clean air strategy.

37 out of 43 regions in the UK have been in breach of the regulations governing safe nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels since 2010 and the government was instructed by the High Court to produce a plan to put this right.

NO2 is responsible for a wide range of life threatening respiratory illnesses and around 40,000 people are estimated to die prematurely every year in the UK because of poor air quality. The government really must get to grips with this issue and not use political games to avoid its legal responsibilities.

Health Our industry is more than happy to help the government by delivering improvements to the indoor air quality (IAQ), which can help to protect the health of building occupants while wider efforts are being made to clean up the outside air.

By maintaining ventilation systems we are in the front line of the war against biological contamination in buildings. Without proper maintenance of filters and other pieces of ventilation equipment organic debris will gather and create ideal breeding conditions for bacteria, mould and algae.

Under such favourable conditions, these microbes multiply rapidly and moving air then circulates microbes throughout the system and into occupied spaces together with their reproductive spores and any toxins they produce.

Airborne microbial contaminants are a real threat to people with allergies and who are susceptible to respiratory or heart conditions. So there can be little argument about the need to tackle the problem, but getting the necessary level of access can be an issue. Buildings are busy places and nobody particularly welcomes have their routine upset so cleaning regimes need to be sensitive to the requirements of the occupants.

Ductwork cleaning can be done zone-by-zone so that most of the facility can remain operational. Or sections can be capped off or work can be carried out at night - this means the building does not have to be shut down.

The important point is to communicate with the building users and explain what is happening and how it can be done to minimise disruption. Now, thanks to the unprecedented amount of publicity about air pollution and the government's struggles with this issue, we have a great opportunity to raise awareness of our role and its contribution to the health and well-being of building occupants.

It is never too late for a building manager to implement a ventilation hygiene regime and more are waking up to this issue thanks to the lurid headlines. The same applies to the government and whoever is in power after June 8 must make air quality a top priority.

They have a great showcase just a week later on June 15 with National Clean Air Day when the ventilation hygiene industry is gathering, alongside all the campaigners calling for changes to transport and other external polluters, to also promote the importance of indoor measures.

There has been enough prevarication and delay - the UK needs to get to grips with its air quality problem now.


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