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Building Services & Maintenance


Poorly maintained ventilation systems, clogged or missing fi lters, dirty ductwork and ageing air conditioning systems are all contributing to a huge health and wellbeing problem. If the government has lost control of the outdoor air, then we must take urgent measures to protect building occupants and make sure our buildings are a haven from the pollution outside. However, this task has been made more diffi cult over the last two decades by the drive to improve the energy effi ciency of buildings, which has involved making them more airtight. Sealing up buildings puts greater pressure on ventilation systems to dilute rising levels of CO2


and replenish oxygen


while simultaneously trying to prevent the rising number of harmful external pollutants from fi nding their way inside. Many airborne particles are precisely the right size for inhalation into lungs. The human body has no way of removing these invaders so they go on to cause damage and disease to vital organs. The Harvard survey showed how


exposure to airborne particles below 10 microns in size posed a serious health risk. Those below 2.5 microns are referred to as ‘fi ne’ particles and are particularly dangerous because they settle deep in the lungs. The Healthvent EU research project


reported last year that almost two-thirds of the burden of disease traced back to poor indoor air quality (IAQ) was from pollutants coming into the building. If you live on a busy arterial road in London you are continually exposed to two or three times more harmful inhalable particulates than the WHO warning level. Whether you are inside or outside a building, you are under siege; and let’s not forget that we spend 90% of our time indoors. For good health and productivity the air where you live or work needs to be about 20-24degC with a relative humidity (RH) of about 40-60%. The ventilation system needs to dilute CO2


levels and replace


oxygen – it’s a very fi ne balance especially when most establishments are now heavily focused on reducing energy use. Air tight building envelopes can be a good way of keeping out external pollutants, but they often lead to occupants opening windows, which is not such a good idea unless you know the level of pollutants you are letting in. Ensuring the ventilation system works well is a better solution. Measurements have shown that


a well-sealed building envelope and effective fi ltration of incoming supply air can reduce particle penetration by 78%. There has been a growing interest





Whether you are inside or outside a building, you are under siege; and let’s not forget that we spend 90% of our time indoors





FACILITIES 103


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