We’re all guilty of it, putting a problem out of sight and, therefore, out of mind.
It is no secret that the air we breathe is polluted – in some major cities toxicity levels are so explicit they are having a serious impact on national health.
A serious decline in air quality in Beijing, for example, has led to forced closures of schools, while the sight of commuters sporting face masks as they cut through suffocating morning smog is commonplace.
While World Health Organisation (WHO) rankings for 2018 put Kanpur (India) as the world’s most polluted city when it comes to air quality, global powers including the likes of London are not immune to its debilitating effects.
What most don’t take into consideration is that the issue doesn’t wait at the door for us to finish our shift, shopping trip, or dental appointment.
Air pollution is as much a problem in the home and workplace as it is on the street.
So much so that in 2017 the Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation estimated that five million people died prematurely from illnesses attributable to indoor air pollution.
While the number of fatalities across the GCC was thankfully low – totalling just 40 deaths – greater awareness of the conditions poor air quality can lead to, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, should be pressing the industry into offering cleaner products and services. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
The worldwide air quality yearly market is worth approximately $6billion, but the GCC boasts just a $180million share.
Eurovent Middle East, the membership body for the region’s leading HVACR manufacturers, seeks to highlight the importance of ensuring good indoor air quality (IAQ) and the central role ventilation and filtration technologies play in this respect.
“[But] the Middle East hasn’t been focusing on it in the past, which is quite natural. The industry is trying to give it more attention as several aspects are crucial and relevant for not only IAQ, but energy efficiency as well.
“The importance of IAQ cannot be underestimated; 90% of our time we spend indoors.
“If you consider how many litres of air we breathe every day, you can imagine how many kilos of dirt, dust and other particles we inhale every year.
“That’s why it is really essential to understand ventilation requirements and systems and care about better quality in the products and installations applied.
“Filtering the air isn’t the only aspect. It’s cleaning air ducts, caring for the right amount of fresh air and filtering the recirculated air, which is more contaminated than outside air in many cases.
“This has to be a must, especially in environments for children and people with weak immune systems, such as hospitals where the concentration of potential hazardous viruses and bacteria is higher.”
At present, the minimum IAQ requirement that needs to be followed by consultants and contractors is ASHRAE 62.1 or, for smaller buildings, ASHRAE 62.2.
But these relatively lax regulations are not up to scratch, according to Lattner.
“Regulations alone will not be sufficient to achieve best IAQ, but we see some areas where regulations definitely would make sense and have a big impact on indoor air quality,” he said.
“Eurovent Middle East has published a position paper on mandatory building inspections focused on HVACR installations.
“Such a programme would have immediate effects on IAQ as well, as it would move the market to better quality in products, installations and maintenance.
“The new ISO standard for air filtration, ISO16890 needs to find its way into regulations as well. And then, an IAQ certificate for neuralgic buildings, schools and hospitals could be implemented together with the industry.
“This could have a good impact on the overall awareness of indoor air quality and grow responsibility among the next generations.”
Lattner believes there are benefits to be gained by firms giving greater consideration to IAQ.
He said: “It would not change so much for us as manufacturers of IAQ products, as the technology is already in place – but for those who care about good IAQ it could provide interesting benefits.
“For instance, being one of the first means opinion leadership and trust. And a big advantage of experience in the market.
“Next to higher yields and satisfied clients, quality will always remain a selling point.
“And the more people become sensitive to the issue, the more the market will grow.
“As an association, we are driving this awareness and want to make sure that indoor air quality will receive the attention it deserves.”