The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Friday, 3 April

Environment Bill Should Give Councils Air Quality Powers

Learning environments should have good air quality.

Local councils should be given the legal authority to enforce higher standards of air quality in schools, public buildings and homes according to the Building Engineering Services Association.

The Association (BESA) believes the government should use its Environment Bill, which was due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on February 26, to beef up local rules on indoor air quality (IAQ) in light of alarming new evidence about the impact of pollution on health - particularly children's health.

 

“Too many of our homes and schools are damp and poorly ventilated – this is adversely affecting the health of children.”

– Jonathan Grigg

RCPCH Paediatric Respiratory Consultant

 

Survey of buildings

 

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the Royal College of Physicians carried out a wide-ranging survey of buildings that revealed shocking rates of asthma and other allergic conditions including conjunctivitis, dermatitis and eczema were directly linked to poor IAQ.

The report also pointed out that IAQ tends to be worse in older buildings and low-quality housing due to inadequate or poorly maintained ventilation – and that indoor air can be many times more polluted than what is outside due to a cocktail of contaminants including smoke, damp, traffic fumes, chemical aerosols and particulates from wood burning.

The RCPCH's Jonathan Grigg added: "We welcome that the country is finally paying attention to the quality of outdoor air - but that the indoor issue is not receiving the attention it needs."

 

Schools

 

“We need to offer support at local authority level. If we ask our children to spend their childhood days in unhealthy spaces, then we’re storing up problems for future health,” said Royal College of Physicians special advisor Stephen Holgate.

 

Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group

 

BESA’s Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group has backed the physicians’ call for greater power to be given to local authorities to enforce minimum standards of IAQ. The Association is also calling for changes to planning rules to ensure air quality tests are part of the approval process and again when a building is signed off.

BESA also recommends that local authorities adopt and enforce World Health Organisation (WHO) standards for air quality, which are much stricter than EU regulations. BESA also suggests that air quality could also be assessed as part of the OFSTED inspection regime for schools; particularly in high-risk urban areas and close to busy roads.

Schools already have ‘duty of care’ responsibilities to safeguard children – so they could also receive a grading for how well they manage the threat from air pollution, the Association said.

“Would you move your family into the catchment area of a school with a good academic record but unhealthy air?” asked Nathan Wood, chair of the BESA Health & Wellbeing in Buildings Group. “Also, developers should not be throwing up thousands of new homes in poor air quality areas without ensuring they provide occupants with adequate protection i.e. high-quality ventilation and filtration that turns homes into safe havens from pollution.

 

Silence

 

“The Environment Bill as it stands is silent on IAQ,” explained Mr Wood. “For our children’s sake, I hope MPs use the second reading debate to ask the government why and push for amendments that include the sorts of strong measures that BESA has outlined.”

 

Picture: Learning environments should have good air quality.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

Share



Related Articles

London's Outdoor Workers Are Breathing More Pollution Than Most

New research shows outdoor workers in London are exposed to 15% more pollution than the average. “We are building the evidence base that proves government must act...

 Read Full Article
Air Quality - It's Worse Indoors Says Study

Indoor air pollution is 3.5 times worse than outdoor air pollution a new study from Clean Air Day claims and that in one incidence, ultrafine particle pollution peaked at...

 Read Full Article
Drawing Conclusions Via Air Quality Audits

20 nurseries in some of London’s most polluted areas are to receive new indoor and outdoor air quality audits to identify measures to reduce children’s...

 Read Full Article
All I Need Is The Air That I Breath To Be More Productive

C02 levels in offices are silently damaging UK productivity a new study has found, with the failure to regulate environmental conditions having a negative impact on...

 Read Full Article
Get The Inside Out

A mental health awareness campaign has returned to our TV screens; one organisation is saying wellbeing - and particularly air quality - is the new bottom line; another...

 Read Full Article
UHoo - Nine Sensors In Indoor Air Quality Monitor

With nine sensors in every uHoo monitor, you'll get more information on indoor air quality than any other indoor air quality monitoring system in its class, claim the...

 Read Full Article
Probiotic Cleaners And Good & Bad HVAC Bacteria

For FMs concerned about in indoor air quality and the toxins that go into their buildings, Vern Klein explains how the latest specialist HVAC cleaning chemicals are both...

 Read Full Article
Culture Vultures Target Meat Market

The City of London has announced the winners of the Smithfield Area Public Realm competition – a plan to create a vibrant, exciting and welcoming new...

 Read Full Article
City Of Lead Goes Green - Birmingham To 'Ban' Cars

On Monday January 13, the 'city that made lead poisoning fashionable', Birmingham, published a draft plan setting out a vision that includes banning private cars...

 Read Full Article
Extinction Back - For Election Week Blues

They're back again! The morning of December 6 saw Extinction Rebellion activists block roads - with the threat to cause more and more disruption misery...

 Read Full Article