Government urged to bring in ‘radical’ indoor air quality legislation

The government should add ‘radical’ indoor air quality policies to its Environment Bill, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).

With the bill set to return to the House of Commons later this month, BESA is calling on the government to make measuring and monitoring of indoor air quality mandatory in certain types of building, specifically particulate matter along with CO2 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

They also propose the adoption of the latest filtration standard (ISO16890) in building regulations they say would allow building engineers to tackle the very smallest particulates.

BESA also backed a recommendation from the Committee on Climate Change that the relevant building regulations are closely aligned to ensure improvements in energy efficiency do not lead to overheating and lack of effective mechanical ventilation.

Schools are a particular area of concern, so BESA has recommended that air quality checks become a mandatory part of OFSTED inspections particularly in high risk urban areas and close to busy roads.

Similarly for hospitals and other healthcare facilities particular standards of clean air should be mandated.

They believe this work could be supported by improving the system of air quality management areas (AQMAs) that are administered by local authorities.

BESA would like to see regular alerts issued when there are spikes in local air pollution and the information gathered should become a consideration for officials considering planning applications.

‘This is a once in a generation opportunity for us to get proper standards of measurement, monitoring and improvement of IAQ enshrined in legislation,’ said Nathan Wood, chair of BESA’s Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group.

‘There is so much evidence gathered by the medical profession, which clearly shows the link between poor air quality and serious health conditions. At the same time, the building engineering sector now has a range of proven techniques that are already making a difference in many buildings,” added Mr Wood.

‘Legislation would allow us to roll out those solutions on a much wider scale and give potentially lifesaving protection to those most vulnerable to the impact of indoor pollution.’

BESA recently launched a ‘Building Safe Havens’ campaign aimed at promoting the concept of indoor clean air zones that protect occupants from the worst impacts of air pollution.