Editorial Feature

Clean Air Day: Why Building Ventilation is Key to Cleaner Air

Most of our life is spent inside an office, school or home. Poor air quality in these buildings can affect our health and productivity. But an adequate building ventilation system can maintain clean air for a healthy, comfortable, and productive indoor environment. As part of Clean Air Day 2022, AZoCleantech takes a closer look at the importance of building ventilation as a key factor in creating cleaner air.

building ventilation, clean air day

Image Credit: Zdenek Venclik/Shutterstock.com

Importance of Clean Air

Clean air is the basis of our health and existence. The value of clean air for a person cannot be underestimated; on average, we eat 1 kg of food and drink 2 liters of water, but we intake almost 15,000 liters of oxygen daily.

In recent years, there has been a demand for clean air among people who value a healthy lifestyle. Many people are concerned about air pollution, but they tend to overlook indoor pollution.

Why does a Building Needs a Ventilation System?

Ventilation is essential for removing stale air and replacing it with fresh air. Without enough ventilation, buildings become subject to stagnant air, where carbon and bacteria pollute indoor air more than outdoor air.

The quality of the air inside the building has a significant impact on the health of the building occupants. A lack of exposure to fresh air can also play a role in the development of recurrent diseases. According to the centers for disease control and prevention, COVID-19 viral particles spread more readily in indoor environments than outside. Sick-building syndrome is a common result of poorly ventilated buildings.

Even if building occupants do not become ill as a result of insufficient ventilation, there may be other negative repercussions. Working in a humid and warm environment, for example, can reduce productivity.

Lack of clean air in a building can create unpleasant working conditions, and hiring and keeping employees can become more difficult. Furthermore, customers and clients prefer not to spend time in rooms with stagnant air, which can be detrimental to a company's bottom line.

Many hazardous air pollutants are produced indoors. One of the major sources of these pollutants is volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which come from building materials, cleansers, electronics and paints. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no safe level of exposure to VOCs.

Air change is required to eliminate the effects of combustion from cooking, moisture from water usage, different aromas and smells from electronics, and to replace carbon dioxide with oxygen. A lot of moisture, gases, dust and other pollutants can be accumulated in the air inside the building.

Carbon monoxide and radon gas can accumulate to lethal levels without adequate ventilation. Fresh air from outside is needed to neutralize these contaminants and clean the air inside the building.

Buildings, similarly to our lungs, need to ensure that they regularly intake fresh air and exhale polluted air outside. An adequate amount of air should be brought in and circulated to ensure it reaches all parts of the building.

All buildings have windows and structural openings that bring fresh air supply. Some even have centralized heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. These systems provide thermal comfort while improving air quality of the entire building.

Types of Building Ventilation Systems

Natural Ventilation System

Natural ventilation systems bring in fresh air from the outside. The fresh air pushes the warm, dusty air inside the structure out through the roof opening.  

Natural ventilation occurs due to changes in internal and exterior air temperatures and humidity, buoyancy pressure, and wind pressure. Due to the difference in the quality of the inside and external air, the air is driven into structures through carefully placed openings.

Potential benefits of natural ventilation systems include clean air, less dependence on air conditioners, and improved energy efficiency.

Mechanical Ventilation System

Air is moved into, out of, and around a building using electromechanically driven fans. Fans are positioned in ceilings, walls, and windows or in air handling systems that supply air to indoor environments via air ducts. Separate ducts remove air from places to allow new air to enter.

Mechanical ventilation employs continuous equipment of high ventilation rates, which can be monitored and managed automatically on-site or remotely. A room air conditioner is a common example of a mechanical ventilation system.

Clean Air Day

Every year since 2017, the United Kingdom celebrates Clean Air Day. It is the UK's largest air pollution campaign, designed to draw political and public attention to the air pollution problem.

It aims to:

  • Increase public awareness about air pollution and how it affects our health.
  • Explain simple steps that we can all take to reduce pollution in the air and thereby protect our health and the environment
  • Encouraging organizations and individuals to take steps to reduce air pollution and make changes in their daily practices.

Air pollution can damage every organ in the body, contribute to chronic disease, shorten lives, and increase the likelihood of contracting COVID-19. Polluted air can irritate the lining of the lungs and enter circulation, harming every organ in the body, resulting in lung illness, cardiovascular disease, and dementia.

Clean Air Pledge

This year, the campaign will promote the following primary actions:

  • Discussing the negative effects of air pollution with someone.
  • Whenever possible, walk short distances and leave the car at home.
  • Inquiring national and local decision-makers about how to make it easier for people to walk more and breathe cleaner air in the neighborhood.

Importance of Clean Air Day and Closing Thoughts

Clean Air Day serves as a timely reminder of the seriousness of air pollution and how it affects the public's health and well-being in the United Kingdom. It provides decision-makers with a mandate to enact the necessary system improvements and shows that a future with cleaner air is both conceivable and desirable.

Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental health risks we face today. Every year, air pollution kills up to 36,000 people in the United Kingdom. It is vital to work on efficient techniques that will minimize air pollution and allow us all to breathe comfortably inside and outside our homes.

References and Further Reading

CDC. (2021). Ventilation in Buildings. [Online]. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/ventilation.html (Accessed on 14 June 2022).

Day, C. A. (2020). Environmental Justice and Air Pollution. Available at: https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/OutputFile/6775152

Global Action Plan. (2022). Clean Air Day 2022. [Online] Available at: https://www.actionforcleanair.org.uk/campaigns/clean-air-day (Accessed on 14 June 2022).

Global Action Plan. (2022). Clean Air Day Theme Confirmed. [Online] Global Action Plan. Available at: https://www.globalactionplan.org.uk/news/clean-air-day-2022-theme-confirmed  (Accessed on 14 June 2022).

Sandberg, M., Kabanshi, A., & Wigö, H. (2020). Is building ventilation a process of diluting contaminants or delivering clean air?. Indoor and Built Environment, 29(6), 768-774. https://doi.org/10.1177/1420326X19837340

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Owais Ali

Written by

Owais Ali

NEBOSH certified Mechanical Engineer with 3 years of experience as a technical writer and editor. Owais is interested in occupational health and safety, computer hardware, industrial and mobile robotics. During his academic career, Owais worked on several research projects regarding mobile robots, notably the Autonomous Fire Fighting Mobile Robot. The designed mobile robot could navigate, detect and extinguish fire autonomously. Arduino Uno was used as the microcontroller to control the flame sensors' input and output of the flame extinguisher. Apart from his professional life, Owais is an avid book reader and a huge computer technology enthusiast and likes to keep himself updated regarding developments in the computer industry.

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