The second annual World Ventilation Day (World Ventil8 Day) on November 8 will draw a direct link between ventilation in buildings and people’s health.
The initiative, which is supported by professional bodies, universities, and environmental groups worldwide, aims to raise awareness of the vital role played by ventilation in maintaining people’s health, wellbeing, and productivity.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that exposure to poor indoor air quality is directly linked to 3.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year.
Last year’s inaugural World Ventil8 Day saw webinars, in person talks, new research, and a range of ventilation experiments carried out on the day demonstrating how good ventilation can reduce exposure to air pollutants and infectious diseases, aid human productivity, improve sleep, and reduce mould and damp in buildings.
This year’s theme is “Breathe Better Live Better”. The organisers plan to demonstrate how improving ventilation systems and raising awareness can address growing alarm over premature deaths linked to indoor air quality (IAQ), mould and damp in homes, and other sources of indoor pollutants including smoking and traffic emissions.
In Australia, the initiative is supported by AIRAH, and Chief Operating Officer Sami Zheng says World Ventil8 Day is particularly relevant for the health of Australians.
“In our country we face multiple challenges when it comes to supplying clean air,” she says. “Since the pandemic, most people understand that ventilation is vital for reducing the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne pathogens. And we know only too well that bushfire smoke can infiltrate our buildings. But other environmental hazards such as pollens and allergens, vehicle emissions, gas stoves, VOCs, and damp and mould also pose serious threats to our health – and all can be addressed through better ventilation in buildings.”
Zheng says World Ventil8 Day recognises the role played by the engineers and ventilation companies who implement the measures and strategies used to make buildings healthier and safer – highlighting the need for training and recruiting more skilled people to take on this growing global task.
“AIRAH, through our professional development and technical materials, our Indoor Air Quality Special Technical Group, our representatives on Australian Standards committees and the Building Codes Committee, and our support of the THRIVE ARC Training Centre for Advanced Building System against Airborne Infection Transmission, is working towards better ventilated spaces, and ultimately better health for all Australians.”
To mark World Ventil8 Day in 2023, AIRAH is holding a webinar on Measuring volatile organic compounds and odours presented by Brad Prezant of Prezant Environmental. It is also providing free access to a previous session on integrating indoor air quality and energy efficient buildings presented by William Bahnfleth, Professor of Architectural Engineering at Pennsylvania State University.
World Ventil8 Day is co-ordinated by the UK’s Building Engineering Services Association (BESA). In the UK, the political stakes are particularly high this year. There is renewed focus on damp conditions in social housing following the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak and growing support for the proposed Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill dubbed “Ella’s Law” in memory of Ella Kissi-Debrah – the first person in the world to have air pollution recorded as her cause of death.
Ella’s mother Rosamund Adoo Kissi-Debrah says the Bill would give the UK “the best air quality law in the world and improve the health of the nation”.
“Ella’s Law would tackle air pollution and greenhouse gases together to improve public health, the environment and the climate,” she says.
The WV8D website includes a range of free resources including “top facts” about the role of ventilation, and different methods that can be adapted depending on the age, design, location, and purpose of a building. It also explains how building operators can manage the complex trade-off between ventilation, energy consumption, climate change, urban pollution, noise, comfort, and security.