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Almost half of British workers believe poor IAQ has led to them suffering from Sick Building Syndrome

Concerns over indoor air quality remain at an all-time high, according to new survey which found 64 per cent of British workers are mostly concerned about the impact of air-quality on their health.

The survey of 2,000 professionals conducted by Opinium for ductwork brand Spiralite revealed one fifth (20 per cent) are very concerned, rising to 38 per cent of people living in London. This has become more concerning for people since the Covid-19 Pandemic, with three in 10 (30 per cent) saying they are more concerned, compared to 14 per cent who are less.

The findings follow research released by Sir Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, calling for indoor air pollutants to be measured in public spaces amid concerns that dirty indoor air could be contributing to nearly as many deaths as outdoor air pollution.

Air pollution is linked to tens of thousands of early deaths a year in the UK from heart disease and stroke, while it can cause reduced lung growth, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma in children.

To tackle these issues, the UK Government has outlined its intention of annually reducing the level of public exposure to delicate particulate matter (PM2.5) in ambient air. Poor air quality has been found to not only lead to respiratory illnesses, but also a decline in workplace productivity.

According to the Opinium survey, over half of workers (52 per cent) have heard of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). SBS is used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building. With this definition in mind, close to half (42 per cent) believe that they have or might have suffered SBS.

Respondents believe the causes of SBS to be poor ventilation or poorly maintained air conditioning systems (60 per cent), release of toxic chemicals from poorly maintained air condition systems (46 per cent), and poorly maintained sewage systems (33 per cent).

A third of respondents (33 per cent) claimed that they would quit their job if employers didn’t implement clean air systems in the office.

Simon Pallant, Country Manager UK & Ireland, Spiralite/Khansaheb Industries, said: “As the leading provider of high performing, sustainable HVAC ductwork, we welcome the findings which show that indoor air quality is fast rising up the agenda, with growing pressure on employers to invest in upgrading their ventilation systems.

“‘While efforts to improve outdoor air quality have driven down emissions of particulates, indoor air quality has largely been neglected. This is becoming an increasing proportion of the problem as improvements in outdoor air pollution occur. Noxious gases, cancer-causing chemicals, and pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and moulds, are increasingly in the frame for today’s health problems.”

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