At the Clean Air Summit in February 2022, Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, was noted to have said that air pollution is everybody’s problem, but we can make a huge difference by acting collectively to solve it. He also mentioned that in the UK, we haven’t been diligent enough about addressing air quality and now we’re in a bit of a mess. Whitty highlighted the serious health problems that can be caused by poor air quality which include heart problems, respiratory illness and of course, the all-pervasive cancer.
Crossing the threshold?
We know that there’s a relationship between air quality and negative climate impact. If we’re going to achieve Net Zero by 2050, a great influence in the successful outcome will be the decarbonising of supply chains. The ongoing development of our [global] built environments will always be a source of carbon emissions, unless we make a fundamental change in the way we continue to develop and embrace greener solutions. This should include universal monitoring of our air quality and acting upon that data to clean up the problem. Remove the sources of VOCs, hazardous dusts, fuel based emissions and anything else that’s making us and our planet sick.
We’ve crossed a threshold in the UK, where there are now calls for a change in legislation regarding air quality. The courts have deemed that the death of an individual was caused by air pollution as a contributory factor. Our air is potentially fatal to us now.
Did you know?
Air quality solutions should not create new problems
Outside airborne pollutants find their way to us in our internal environments as long as there is a conduit. That might be from opening a door, window, or even through our ventilation and HVAC systems.
Here at Air Spectrum, we seek to create the greenest solutions to improve air quality in various settings. Recently, as an example, we launched the UK’s first emissions-free dust suppression system – the ecotech Rotary Atomiser – to protect workers in dusty environments – usually in construction and demolition or waste and recycling. It is battery operated rather than using diesel, so there are zero emissions generated while it’s doing its job to suppress dust in the atmosphere. It’s quiet, so doesn’t add to noise pollution; it runs for a whole working day on a single battery charge, so it’s energy and cost efficient.
The technology is familiar, but just used to create an environmentally friendly solution. This kind of substitution could easily make our building and engineering projects greener. It provides a safety solution that does not create an emissions problem while fulfilling its function.
A lot of people might be thinking that because this is a solution for an external environment, that the internal environment isn’t affected by it. But just the opposite is true. HVAC systems will capture some pollutants if filters aren’t maintained properly and while we think we are safe, we aren’t.
Don’t fear the financials of greening the supply chain
There is much trepidation about the outlay of adopting greener solutions, but deep down, it may well be a fear of beginning a different method of working. The benefits are certainly worth the change on many levels – environmental, financial social, biological and cultural – and they are not just long term.
Don’t we remember the positive impacts during the pandemic as the world went into enforced hibernation with the first quarantines? The air quality improved at a sharp rate, coastal waters cleared, the Venice lagoon became a crystal pond; nature had breathing space.
We have the ability to re-create this improvement over time with greener technology.
Decarbonising supply chains tackles an environmental threat from a cultural level, encouraging the pledge to use a cleaner solution wherever possible and make it the new norm. It’s not unlike switching from a diesel/petrol car to an electric one. It might seem a little odd at first, quieter, odourless, you have to stop and charge up every now and then, but it gets the job done without making a mess of the air that we breathe.