One way to protect people from air pollution is to provide clean and healthy indoor air. This was one of the main conclusions of the 6th World IEQ Forum held in early 2022 at the Expo Dubai.
The Dubai Expo may have ended, but indoor air quality remains a global concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the risk of human-to-human transmission of the virus is higher in poorly ventilated indoor areas. The WHO also released a new version of its global air quality guidelines, the first update since 2005. "New scientific studies had found that the limit for air pollution considered harmful to human health is 50 percent lower today than it was seventeen years ago when the previous air quality guidelines were published," said Tobias Zimmer, Vice President of Global Product Management and International Standards at Camfil.
In addition, according to a recent WHO study, 99 percent of the world's population lives in areas with excessive air pollution. Air pollution has widespread consequences in the form of the disease, millions of premature deaths worldwide each year, and high economic costs.
"In the North Africa and the Middle East region, air pollution is responsible for 270,000 deaths per year and costs US$41 billion, according to the World Bank," said Tobias Zimmer. He points out that most people now spend 90 percent of their time indoors and that the easiest and best way to protect yourself from harmful airborne particles is to invest in efficient air filtration solutions in buildings.
"The much lower limit values illustrate the need for high-quality air filtration for PM2.5 and PM10 in the new WHO air quality guidelines. In addition, these limits align with Eurovent guideline 4/23 for selecting air filter classes according to EN ISO 16890 for general ventilation applications".
At the same time, Tobias Zimmer emphasizes that when it comes to cleaning indoor air, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. "The consensus at the World IEQ Forum was that any solution must be tailored to the location of the building. The outside air quality determines which air filter solution is the right one."
For example, what works in a temperate zone may not work in high humidity regions. "Needs can also vary within the region. For example, cities are more affected by air pollution than rural regions. Some cities are more polluted than others, and so on."
The World IEQ Forum offers indoor air quality experts, such as Tobias Zimmer and his colleagues, the opportunity to exchange ideas with the Ministry of Health representatives and other representatives from different countries.
"It is imperative that we continue to raise awareness of the urgent need to protect people from air pollution. When you look at the human and financial costs on a global scale, it is obvious that we cannot afford not to."
Tobias Zimmer explains that they didn't just discuss the importance of healthy indoor air quality. "We also provided proof of concept by measuring outdoor and indoor air at the site during EXPO. Outdoor air in Dubai was ten times more polluted than recommended by the WHO. On the other hand, the air inside the Sweden pavilion was well below WHO limits.
He concludes that the effect of the clean indoor air in the Swedish pavilion was visible to the naked eye. "After several hours of me and other speakers speaking, the audience was still fresh and alert. So it's safe to say we've demonstrated the benefits of clean, healthy, and productive indoor air."