BESA calls for Clean Air Act to support buildings as ‘safe havens’

BESA, Indoor Air Quality

Proposals for a new Clean Air Act should include measures supporting the role of buildings as ‘safe havens’ from Pollution, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA). While tackling emissions from transport is vital, BESA believes that much could also be achieved in a shorter time frame by focusing on how building occupants can be protected from rising external pollution.

A powerful coalition of environmental campaigners, health bodies and industry groups has launched a campaign to force the Government to take ‘urgent action’ on air pollution by creating new legislation 60 years after the original Act was created to tackle urban smog.

British Lung Foundation chief executive Dr Penny Woods has said that air pollution is now a ‘public-health crisis’ contributing up to 40 000 early deaths a year across the UK. ‘Toxic air is a risk to everyone, but hits those with a lung condition, children and the elderly hardest. We need a new, fair and ambitious Clean Air Act, with targets to slash pollution levels across the country and to remove the most polluting vehicles from our towns and cities.’

Paul McLaughlin, chief executive of BESA, believes that tackling indoor air quality (IAQ) has a key role to play. ‘People spend more than 80% of their time indoors, and there is still a lot more we can do to improve indoor air quality. A series of low-cost, maintenance measures to ensure ventilation systems work properly and incoming air is filtered and cleaned would make a major difference to the health and well-being of building occupants.

‘Reducing toxic emissions from vehicles and industrial processes will take many years to produce results and involve major long-term investment. Improving building ventilation is a quick and relatively painless process that can be tackled today to help protect people in the meantime. Building owners also have a duty of care to protect the health of their tenants and employees.

‘A well-sealed building envelope combined with effective filtration of incoming supply air can reduce particle penetration by 78%. Considerable investment has already been made in improving the airtightness of buildings to reduce energy consumption and that same process can be used to manage air quality.’

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