There’s something in the air tonight. Oh Lord. If we could actually see what we were breathing, many of us would never venture out again.
Staying indoors is no better. According to a study by Global Action Plan, indoor air pollution is 3.5 times worse than outdoor air pollution and at its peak can be up to 560 times higher. Add to that the prevalence of COVID-19 and the air is a mosh pit of pathogens, allergens and pollutants.
If you’re waiting for regulation to remedy the problem, don’t hold your breath. Experts have been lobbying the government for years but the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, which has been in the pipeline for some time, is caught in an air lock at second reading stage in the House of Lords.
Apart from the threat of COVID-19 and its variants, just what is in the air that’s so harmful and what damage can it do to our health?
Airborne particles are too small to see with the naked eye. Miniscule toxins, PM2.5 microns and smaller, are 100 times thinner than a human hair and can pass into the bloodstream, causing serious harm. Generally, these come from the combustion of solid and liquid fuels, through power generation, domestic heating and in-vehicle engines. Other common, larger sized pollutants include PM10 micron-sized respirable particulate matter, such as dust, industrial waste, pollen and fragments of bacteria. Viruses, such as COVID-19, can be carried in both PM2.5 and PM10-sized airborne aerosol droplets that protect them from evaporation (source: EPA).
The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that air pollution kills seven million people worldwide every year. Even when it isn’t fatal, just about everyone is affected. The WHO data shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air with levels of pollutants that exceed its guideline limits. This can have adverse impacts on the six body systems: brain; nervous; cardiovascular; respiratory; endocrine; and renal.
Polluted air has been linked to many serious health risks, including neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diseases of the heart, lungs and kidneys. Older people are more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation and pneumonia because of air pollution, resulting in thousands of additional hospital admissions each year.
A recent WHO report claims that, in terms of life span, bringing global PM2.5 exposure down to levels it deems to be protective of human health would eliminate the same number of deaths as eradicating breast and lung cancer.
Now for the drum fill.
There is a relatively simple and cost-effective solution for removing indoor air pollution. Portable air purifiers are ideal for hospitality venues, restaurants, offices, schools, hospitals and any other shared indoor spaces.
With the advent of COVID-19, there has never been a better time to invest in clean air. It has now been proven that the biggest risk of transmission is from airborne droplets, so steps to mitigate COVID-19 from the atmosphere can simultaneously remove other harmful particles and contribute to longer-term health protection beyond the pandemic.
The sensible way forward is to listen to the authorities, who are all on the same wavelength when it comes to endorsing HEPA filtration and germicidal UVC light to trap and destroy COVID-19. HEPA is ultra effective across a wide range of pathogen particle sizes and traps at least 99.97% of fine particulate matter, rising to 100% for particle sizes under 0.05 microns and above 5.0 microns. Although the government is failing to broadcast it, the message is loud and clear from the WHO, the UK SAGE committee, the HSE, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and eminent Indoor Air Quality expert Dr. Marwa Zaatari.
At their peril, some choose to ignore the collective wisdom of those whose role it is to protect us. The authorities not only guide us on the direction to take, but what to avoid: like purifiers that emit ozone, which is even more harmful than the particles it aims to rid us of. SAGE cites the importance of independent testing and warns of guerrilla devices that pose ‘toxicological risks during application’.
We live in hope that the Clean Air Bill will eventually see the light of day and that meaningful regulation will be put in place. Lord knows, many of us have been waiting for this moment for all our lives. Way back in 1952, the London smog disaster claimed 12,000 lives and led to the government passing the Clean Air Act. Today, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths per annum in the UK, while COVID-19 has so far claimed 128,000 lives. Yet still we wait.
Meanwhile, we must amplify the drumbeat of organisations like EIC, Clean Air Day, Airborne Allergy Action and The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. We can also choose to listen to the authorities and take decisive and practical action to purify the air around us. That’s why Rensair’s hospital-grade air purification at commercial prices is resonating with organisations across all sectors. Look out for the Rensair logo, a cymbal of clean air and great value.
By Christian Hendriksen, Co-founder & CEO, Rensair
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