Podcast – Indoor Air Quality with Zehnder Clean Air Solutions

Our latest podcast episode focuses on indoor workplace air pollution, and the need for a greater understanding of the dangers this poses, and tighter regulations to safeguard employees. 

Produced in partnership with Zehnder Clean Air Solutions, the discussion is led by two industry experts. William Burrows is the company’s North West England and Ireland Project Lead, and regularly undertakes site visits to ascertain air quality in logistics and manufacturing environments, among other sectors, making recommendations on how to improve air flow and protect staff. 

man in orange polo shirt standing in front of table

Keith Cotton is the founder of Crisp Air, a consultancy focused on creating sustainable value for the environment, community, workforce and other organisations — not least local authorities — raising perception of the threat posed by air pollution, both indoor and ambient. 

While indoor air pollution is no stranger to the pages of Air Quality News, research and public awareness is lacking when compared with ambient, or outdoor, air pollution. The issue did become more prevalent during the pandemic, but as our guests explain, that change has sadly not been long lasting.

‘Knowledge is key,’ says Cotton, recounting how some years ago he was talking to the then-Director of Public Health England, and was surprised to hear they only thought of mould from damp when it comes to indoor air pollution, rather than emissions, particulate matter, and other hazards pollutants present in homes and workplaces alike. 



‘The pandemic certainly did raise attention about it, but like our own attitudes towards Covid, I think it’s largely being ignored again,’ he continues, before comparing the measurements of PM2.5 recorded on a London Underground service in rush hour, compared with the World Health Organisation’s recommended annual average limits of 5µg/m3, and maximum levels for 24-hour exposure of 15µg/m3 . ‘Hold your breath if you’re on the Northern Line is all I can say… we recorded 450µg/m3.’ 

Burrows is also keen to point out just how overlooked indoor air pollution is. ‘What people aren’t aware of is that indoor is equally important as outdoor air quality. Take an average day, you or  I will sleep for seven or eight hours. Then there’s another seven or eight hours when most of us are indoors working.’

Referring to a King’s College London study of roadside pollution over a 10 year period, he cites average pollutant levels at 25µg/m3 — much lower than many of the businesses he visits. ‘I can go into a standard logistics environment, and levels are at 167µg/m3. 

‘So you can see there is a significant difference there. People say shut your windows if you’re working in London, but you’ve got to remember those outside levels are at 25µg/m3, so actually quite low. When I go into workplaces, inside, and see the levels there, it’s startling,’ he continues. 

You can listen the full episode below, which includes information on how businesses can improve indoor pollution, signposting to trade unions fighting for tighter regulations to protect staff, and the role campaigns and public messaging can play in the journey to safe indoor air quality. 


Image: Sam Moghadam Khamseh


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