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Nathan Wood looks at some shocking statistics on the damage poor air can do

You're familiar with that moment in history when mere discussion of a problem no longer suffices.

We find ourselves in that very situation today, facing a crisis that's hitting us all, no matter where we're from or what we believe.

The air we breathe, once so sustaining, has turned into a silent enemy.

We can't afford to ignore the truth about indoor air quality.

It's not just a concern; it's a call to arms, an urgent wake-up call for us an our future generations.

The air we breathe is taking a toll on all of us, especially our children.

NathanWood BESA Nathan Wood Chair of the BESA Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group

The Shocking Stats:

The numbers don’t lie.

About 90% of people worldwide are breathing in polluted air - a mix that's just not doing any good. And the cost, both in human suffering and what it's doing to our healthcare systems, it's massive.

This isn't just a number on a page, a stat or chart; these are real lives being affected.

The Intangible Trouble:

You'd think our homes and workplaces are safe, right? Turns out, there's potentially a whole host of air pollutants in there.

Indoor air quality, something we didn't think twice about before, is now a real concern. Polluted outside air pollution seeps through every crack, blown in via windows and doors, even from ventilation systems, mixing with indoor air / pollutants affecting our health and well-being.

In today’s world, we’re also concerned about what viruses are being introduced by the very people we share our indoor spaces with.

Looking back:

Back in the 80s, parents were worried about lead additives in petrol. 140,000 tons of lead were released into the air from exhaust fumes, it was a big deal, especially for children.

They banned lead in 1999, but this seemed to shift our focus, and we kind of lost track of air pollution.

It's only in recent years that the rise in awareness around air pollution has made us realize how it links to cognitive abilities, lack of concentration, and hyperactivity in children, to name a few.

The Stark Reality:

The air we breathe in busy city centres and even rural countryside’s is taking a toll on all of us, especially our children.

It's affecting their cognitive and behavioural development, the very essence of their potential.

Tiny toxic pollutants being inhaled, passing into their bloodstream and entering every single part of their bodies, stunting growth and slowing down their development, reducing lung function, causing cancers, and ultimately limiting their lives.

A Serious Wake-Up Call:

There's a project in Barcelona called BREATHE. They checked air pollutants around schools and saw how it could mess with brain development.

They found that children exposed to higher levels of PM2.5 had smaller brains.

In the older children, they were showing signs of slower brain development, a clear sign that this prolonged exposure is damaging them.

Our Call to Arms:

Look, this isn't a battle fought somewhere else. It's a global issue, in our homes, our schools, our offices, even the local shop; it’s in the air we breathe every day.

This is a plea for all of us to step up, beyond borders and politics.

Our buildings, our sanctuaries, need to be places of purity, where the air nourishes instead of harms.

Our buildings must become our safe havens.

Support World Ventilation Day:

On November 8th, let's all stand together and support World Ventilation Day.

It's a vital step towards reclaiming the air we breathe and making our indoor spaces truly safe places to be.

Every day, we consider the 2kg of food and 3kg of fluids we intake. But let's not forget that we breathe in approximately 13kg of air in that same timeframe.

The quality of this air deeply affects our well-being.

Become a part of a GLOBAL CAMPAIGN!  It's a day that holds the promise of a healthier future, not just for us, but for generations to come. So get involved!

IAQ Guides:

In our quest for cleaner indoor air, we're fortunate to have some awesome resources at our disposal.

The BESA IAQ Guides, generously sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric and developed by an expert group, are invaluable.

These guides are not just informative; they're free to access and download. They cover a range of crucial topics, including a comprehensive risk assessment for indoor air quality.

And here's some exciting news - a brand new guide has just been launched at the BESA conference, focusing on the persistent issue of mould and damp.

This guide promises to provide crucial insights into combatting these challenges and ensuring that our indoor environments remain safe and healthy.

This is our moment to make a change, to redefine the air we breathe, and to safeguard the well-being of everyone.

Nathan Wood is BESA Group IAQ Chairman and MD of Farmwood M&E Services Ltd