Indoor air quality as an environmental issue
Stories about absenteeism from work abound in broadcast news bulletins and in newspapers. The cost to business of that absenteeism is apparently known right down to the last pound, but the reasons are less understood. News journalists love health issues that might be the cause of such absenteeism, but they generally seem much less concerned about the boring details of putting things right. In buildings, providing a healthy environment is the remit of the building-services sector, one aspect of which is covered in the feature on indoor air quality in this issue of Modern Building Services. In fully appreciating their responsibilities, engineers should bear in mind the World Health Organisation’s definition of health as ‘a state of complete well-being and not merely the absence of disease’. The coughing, dry throat, sore eyes etc. that are associated with poor indoor air quality and sick building syndrome could hardly be regarded as diseases, but they certainly detract from a sense of complete well-being. Our feature provides much food for thought on the factors that are associated with a poor environment in buildings and how they can be addressed. There is no doubt that people are far more demanding about the quality of their working environment than they ever used to be. Unfortunately, many buildings are still unhealthy, ventilation is poor in many buildings, and air quality is worse than it should be.