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AIR QUALITY


small initiatives can combine to have an appreciable impact. One of the most obvious is to impose a non-smoking


policy, either totally or by confining smoking to a smoking lounge. This should have negative pressure (see box “All About Air”) and be ventilated directly to the outside. Vehicle emissions can be controlled in a similar way, with negative pressure in the parking garage, and by discouraging the running of engines at the loading dock. Emissions from maintenance products can be minimised


by choosing low-emitting products, of course, but also by avoiding sprays and aerosols in general. They should be stored in sealed spaces, again ventilated to the outside. Construction materials may be a harder issue to address if the facility has already been built, but improved ventilation will still help. When new construction is underway, recommendations include airing materials in an open area before use; keeping them dry; and ensuring that there is ventilation during work. Similarly, issues with the earth or rock cannot simply be eliminated through changing behaviour as tobacco smoke can. But foundations can be sealed, and the ducts that bring air into the building can be kept away from the ground. Finally, as so often with buildings, moisture is the enemy.


Steps that can be taken here include insulating pipes as well as exterior walls and ceilings to avoid sweating and condensation; ventilating areas that produce steam, such as kitchens; and ensuring there is adequate drainage around the outside of the building. The aim is to keep the relative humidity (a measure of the amount of water in the air) to around 50% or less. Temperature is a consideration too. Emissions, for example


from building materials, are often greater at higher temperatures. So simply addressing heat and humidity within the building can pay dividends, while bearing in mind that a heating system is not the only influence on temperature – other heat sources such as electrical equipment, sunlight, and the outdoor temperature all have an effect too.


And then the third approach, complementing control of emissions, is ventilation. This means regularly replacing the air in the building by sending it outside and bringing in cleaner air. However, effectively ventilating a large space requires a lot more than opening a few windows. Ventilation has several main components: outside air is


introduced and indoor air exhausted by mechanical means, but there is also natural “air exchange” in both directions through doors, windows and other gaps in the building’s skin. In an IAQ strategy, ventilation can have two quite different


effects, though frequently they are used in combination. Exhaust ventilation means removing contaminated air, sending it outside. By contrast, dilution ventilation does not try to get rid of the pollutants entirely, but instead aims to dilute them by introducing clean air from the outside. Exhaust ventilation is an option when the pollutant source


96 JANUARY 2019


ZakS Photography/Adobe Stock


IT’S THE LAW R


egulation of IAQ – or of the factors affecting it – varies widely around the world. Probably the


most common IAQ-related laws are those dealing with smoking in public places, and indeed the phrase “clean indoor air” in legislation is typically code for a smoking ban, as in the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act. The effect of smoking bans on casinos has been much discussed. Measures such as Macau’s are often seen as harmful to the industry, and casinos are sometimes among the few public premises exempt from such bans. However, some countries go further in mandating clean indoor air, typically as a form of worker protection. In the United States, for example, the


Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to provide a safe workplace, and the agency responsible for its enforcement – OSHA – has produced guidelines on IAQ. While standards such as these


address the actual air quality within a premises, building codes can also be drawn up to ensure that structures are likely to ensure good air quality. In the US there is a patchwork of local codes but in some countries, for example the UK, they are more standardised. Britain’s Building Regulations provide detailed guidance on airtightness, ventilation, and radon, although they have been criticised as being more concerned with energy efficiency than air quality.


is small and local (an exhaust hood on a kitchen stove is a familiar example); dilution ventilation is more practical when the sources are multiple and widespread. Professional advice will likely be needed, because like


most aspects of managing big buildings, ventilation is more complex than it sounds. And so, indeed, is air quality – air and its potential for causing problems might be invisible, but as building owners sometimes find out, the consequences are not.


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