Air pollution and occupant health the key focus for ASBP Healthy Buildings Conference, 24th February
Every year at the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products’ Healthy Buildings Conference, the spotlight is focussed on key issues affecting the health of both people and planet, such as poor air quality, ocean plastic pollution and material toxicity.
Since the inaugural event in 2017, a number of inspiring keynote speakers such as ocean plastics campaigner Emily Penn and leading air quality expert Sir Stephen Holgate have presented. Plus, all the latest research, policy and product developments that can help to accelerate the delivery of healthier buildings.
The issues explored at the conference have never been more important. Around six million people aged over 65 in England are at high risk of lung damage and asthma attacks because of toxic air, according to a new report by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and Asthma UK (11th Feb 2021). The report finds that older people and those with lung disease who are most vulnerable to the effects of pollution are often the most exposed.
In 36 local authorities, every single care home is located in areas with PM2.5 levels above the limits recommended by the WHO. These include Epping Forrest, Luton, Thurrock, Reading, Slough, Spelthorne, Broxbourne, Dartford and Watford. The current legal limit for PM2.5 in the UK is twice the WHO recommendation, at 20 micrograms per cubic metre.
Healthy Buildings 2021 keynote speaker Geraint Davies MP is chair of the APPG on air pollution and he has been working tirelessly to improve air quality in the UK. He introduced his own Clean Air Bill four years ago, in 2017, at which time the Royal College of Physicians had already reported that 40,000 people in Britain were dying prematurely every year, at a cost of £20 billion.
The figure is now thought to be 64,000 people. Air pollution affects people’s brains, hearts and lungs. The mental and physical health of unborn children is affected, as is young children’s concentration. It can also affect people in terms of depression, anxiety and dementia—so the list goes on. In fact, the number of Covid deaths is up 8% for each microgram of PM2.5.
Geraint has met with Rosamund Kissi-Debrah many times, whose daughter Ella tragically passed away in 2013 due to a severe case of asthma. For the first time, the coroner’s inquest concluded that Ella’s cause of death could be contributed directly to the levels of toxic air that caused her asthma, throwing the problem of air pollution under a new spotlight. Rosamund has also campaigned tirelessly to improve air quality and has set up a Foundation in her daughter’s honour.
Geraint argued in January in the House of Commons that the new Environment Bill should include World Health Organisation universal limits applied so that thousands of children and vulnerable people can be saved and protected. This requires PM2.5 to be 10 micrograms per cubic metre by 2030, however, the amendment was not accepted. The Environment Bill has now been withdrawn and delayed for six months, so we have an opportunity to advocate for this life-saving amendment.
As well as external air pollution, we need our homes and workspaces to be healthy indoors and this is a complex mix of external air quality, source control (avoiding pollution from building materials) and good ventilation. Professor Cath Noakes sits on the SAGE committee and is one of the leading technicians in building physics.
The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products will bring all of these inspiring speakers together for their 5th Healthy Buildings Conference on 24th February 10:00-12.45, with the event aimed at placemakers, planners, Environmental Heathy Professionals, RSLs, developers and more. The conference runs as follows;
10.00 Professor Cath Noakes
10.30 Jeff Smith, consultant to WHO
10.45 Ben Channon, on the benefits of natural materials
11.30 Geraint Davies MP
11.55 Rosamund Kissi-Debrah
12.20 Jack Harvie-Clarke on acoustics
Attendees can also register to attend two free finale events of the ASBP Innovation Pitch Series at 15.00 on 24/02 and the ASBP Awards 2021 on the 25/02 from 15.00.
For more information and to book, please visit: https://asbp.org.uk/healthybuildings2021
Readers can use the following discount code when booking to receive 25% off tickets.