London calls for help on indoor air quality

The Deputy Mayor of London has called for help from building engineering specialists to improve air quality in buildings.

Speaking at the recent Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) national conference, Deputy Mayor of London Shirley Rodrigues said indoor air quality would be a priority consideration in new planning laws for the city and a crucial part of its Environment Strategy.

She urged BESA members to take part in the current consultation process on changes to the London Plan and to share their expertise with policy makers.

“IAQ is a relatively new area for us to understand and we want to talk to your industry about the right steps to take,” she said. “We also need to make sure that people are provided with better evidence about the risks posed by poor IAQ.

“We are aware that air brought into buildings through their ventilation systems can contribute to health problems and we will use the planning system to make sure this is taken into account by everyone involved in building projects, including architects,” she told the conference, which took place at the Park Plaza Riverbank hotel in London

Vulnerable

Ms Rodrigues, who is Deputy Mayor for the environment and energy, said she was particularly concerned about the impact on vulnerable building occupants like schoolchildren and said 400 London schools had been identified as being at particular risk.

She said it was important to address IAQ and improve the information available to the public while the Mayor’s office tried to address the “wider systemic issues of pollution in general”.

The Mayor Sadiq Khan recently produced data showing that every borough in London exceeded World Health Organisation limits for PM2.5 – the toxic air particles linked to lung damage and elevated risks of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as cancer. He has pledged to spend £875 million on air quality measures over the next five years.

The research, based on the latest updated London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, also showed that 7.9 million Londoners – nearly 95% of the capital’s population – lived in areas that exceed the WHO guidelines by 50% or more.

Ms Rodrigues told the BESA conference that these levels of PM2.5 were blamed for 29,000 premature deaths in the UK every year and children exposed to levels above the WHO limit were likely to grow up with reduced lung function and were at a high risk of developing asthma.

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