Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health and is estimated to cause approximately 2 million premature deaths worldwide per year, according to the World Health Organisation.
Air pollution outdoors and in is generally outside the control of individuals and where people are gathered in large groups, such as public buildings, offices, industrial units, hospitals or residential homes, maintaining the air quality is likely to be the responsibility of the building’s facilities manager.
Among the sources of air pollution are particulates – tiny particles in the air produced from such sources as burning solid fuels for heating, however in a work or public setting they are more likely to enter the atmosphere either from the industrial process being used or from the outside atmosphere.
In the summer a well-known source is pollen which is the bane hay fever sufferers and carbon emissions from traffic, which can also cause breathing difficulties.
Prolonged and intense exposure to particles can contribute to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as of lung cancer.
Buildings also release pollutants from the materials that have been used in construction, fitting and furnishing. For example, formaldehyde is used in a variety of products, cabinets and carpeting, because it is an excellent preservative and bonding agent. Pressed wood and furniture made from these products are found in offices and homes and urea-formaldehyde foam insulation is one of the major sources of formaldehyde.
Then there is the dust that is an inevitable part of daily life wherever there are humans engaged in any activity.
These sources of air pollution can all contribute to poor air quality and in a large building the ventilation, extraction systems and air ducts involved in either heating or air conditioning are an important part of improving air quality.
The scientific evidence suggests that higher ventilation rates will often increase work performance and bring financial benefits.
In the UK Defra, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, publishes an information pack on the different types of pollutants and there is more guidance from the Department of Health.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also publishes case studies about people whose health has been affected by air pollution including the story of a carpenter and joiner who died of lung cancer after inhaling asbestos particles during his working life. There are now strict measures in place to protect people from asbestos and severely restricting its use, but the case study illustrates the seriousness of the consequences of ignoring air quality issues.
Regular air duct cleaning of a building’s ventilation system is therefore an important element of ensuring the health and safety of a building’s workers and other users.
A specialist commercial cleaner will be able to assess the state of the building’s ductwork, ensure that all parts are working correctly, when filters need changing, whether ductwork seals are working and will be able to advise on a schedule of duct cleaning to ensure that the system is performing efficiently and is not putting occupants at risk.
Copyright (c) 2011 Alison Withers