There are rules and standards that guarantee indoor air quality
The Public Health and Safety Department of Dubai Municipality has embarked on an effort to raise awareness on indoor air quality in the emirate. “The public can report any air quality violation using the new web-based electronic service or the hotline to report complaints, said Raed Al Marzouqi, Head of the Occupational Health and Safety Section at the Department.
“According to the Local Order No.11 of 2003, the term Health and Safety of Buildings shall mean fulfillment (by the building) of the health and environmental conditions and safety requirements which ensure protection of health and safety of its residents, and maintain its interior and surrounding environments, including the building materials, potable water systems, sewerage systems, air-conditioning systems, elevators, emergency exists, firefighting systems, indoor air quality and common service facilities,” elaborated Raed to explain when a violation is in place.
“The occupant shall maintain healthy indoor air quality of the building through the provision of a proper exhausting system for gaseous emissions and fumes contaminating the indoor air, and for the heat resulting from various activities and facilities in the building by providing ventilation in conformance to the approved indoor air quality standards,” he added.
Raed highlighted that people spend an average of 90% of their time indoors, so the quality of the indoor air has a significant influence on their well-being, productivity, and quality of life. Researches indicate that pollutant levels of indoor air may run 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels, he said.
“Poor indoor air may cause certain health issues such as asthma, cough, flu, breathing difficulty, bacterial infections, headaches etc. Groups mostly affected are elderly, children and those with weak immune system.
“In addition to respiratory infections and asthma which can be caused by poor indoor environment quality, continuous exposure to pollutants can cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, lethargy, inattentiveness, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Continuous exposure to hazardous substances can also lead to learning disabilities, cancers, and illnesses caused by damage to the nervous system,” he explained.
With the awareness drive the Department aims to increase the percentage of buildings complying with indoor air quality standards to 70%, which should be achieved through the inspection and monitoring of indoor air quality, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.
“Problems with indoor air quality are caused by a range of factors, including emissions from building materials and technical equipment, permeability of the wall structures, ventilation practices and ventilation rate, building practices and cleaning habits, emissions of products which are used indoors, open combustion and ambient air quality,” Raed continued.
“Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can damage their health, but only few realize that indoor air pollution can also contribute to ill health. Reduced ventilation, too much humidity and the use of chemicals can lead to unhealthy air and affect health and well-being.”