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05.06.2019, 13:25

IAQ More Important than Airborne Outdoor Pollution

Energy Management, Heating, Ventilating & Air Conditioning (HVAC), Health, Safety, Security & Environment, EMEA
Seventy-two per cent of Brits know little or nothing about indoor air quality (IAQ) which is estimated to be a factor in some 20,000 premature deaths every year, according to YouGov research commissioned by Veolia for World Environment Day, today.


Calling for the government of the United Kingdom to refine and align its regulatory guidance on IAQ with guidance published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the environmental identifies poor monitoring of buildings, alongside limited public awareness, as key contributors to a growing public health crisis.


Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer for Veolia UK & Ireland, says:


"We can smell car fumes and sometimes we see dust levels outside, but little is known about invisible indoor air pollution and its potential health effects which are thought to be eight times more dangerous than outdoor conditions.


"Veolia has been monitoring and studying indoor air at a global level for over a decade, and out of the hundreds of buildings we have audited, over 80% have required some corrective action - in the UK it is no different. Our research shows the public are poorly informed on an issue that will affect each and every one of us - we spend 8 hours a day in the buildings, much longer than we spend commuting.


"Current UK government advice on indoor air quality is fragmented, ineffective and has been poorly enforced to date. Solutions are available to prevent further indoor air related health impacts, but only if the problem is taken seriously by policy makers and stronger guidelines are imposed. Adopting guidance on indoor air quality will be an important, immediate step in preventing a whole generation from suffering unnecessary ill-health or reduced life expectancy.


"We can monitor, test, and remediate air quality in buildings to very safe levels - potentially paying for the clean up with energy savings we implement at the same time, so it doesn’t have to come at a cost."


Ventilation needs to be cleverly balanced to avoid drawing in and locking in polluted outside air in a building.  However, indoor air quality can be impacted by various sources which include fibres, particles and chemicals released by carpets, furniture, photocopies, and other office machines that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which will be concentrated in buildings where air is not cleaned correctly.


Veolia has recently piloted a study to consider the effectiveness of bio synthetic clean air walls (CAW) which utilise filtration mechanisms to highlight areas where building owners and operators can improve IAQ and take other measures to improve well-being in offices.


A case in France demonstrated the importance of integrating indoor air quality during renovations. Veolia’s air quality experts were called in to investigate Radio France’s headquarters in Paris after employees and guests felt indisposed in the studios and offices, following the building renovation. Our experts measured the air quality levels in the whole building, identifying pollution sources and proposed solutions to improve indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality on the first stage of the building renovation had significant financial consequences due to the redesign of installations and the non-use of studios during construction work. Veolia's support to Radio France is ongoing and the companies work together to ensure a good indoor air quality at the Maison de la Radio.




About the YouGov research

The research was carried out online by YouGov Plc.  The survey was carried out online. Total sample size was 2025 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st June and 3rd May 2019.  The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).


  • 72% of Brits answered that they either don’t know “much” about the subject of indoor air quality, don’t know anything about it or have never heard about it before.
  • 73% agree the government should develop indoor air quality guidelines for all public buildings
  • 31% of respondents had never heard about the subject of indoor air quality before
  • 55% of respondents aren’t concerned about indoor air quality and their health



Visit for additional information about Veolia Group's pioneering work in this area.






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