Indoor Air Quality matters to our brain and bodies

by yogalife_user
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In UAE we spend 90% of our time inside, but are we conscious about the quality of indoor air in our offices, homes, schools and more?  The quality of air in these places can be poor, scientists have found, thanks to the release of gases and volatile compounds from furnishings, particulates from cooking, and other sources, all combined with poor ventilation.

AirZones is the first fully independent star rated standard for indoor air quality, launched in Dubai in 2021 and aligned to the Dubai 2040 master plan. Using high technology air quality sensors and monitors to analyse indoor air quality at a specific venue or ‘zone’, the company’s experienced scientists and engineers then suggest simple improvements, such as changing products used in the space, to improve indoor air quality and the health of the building.

For commercial premises – like hospitality, F&B, education or offices, Air Zones then awards its unique Indoor Air Quality Star Rating, from 1 to 5 stars.  Customers, guests or clients can then make informed decisions about the venues they visit and where they choose to spend time and money.

Air quality is another elephant in the room – especially in the Middle East, where old or unclean air conditioning systems can give rise to a host of health issues. In fact, the United Nations (UN) (1) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) (2) regard air pollution as the greatest environmental threat to humanity, citing it as being responsible for more than 7 million global deaths a year.

AirZones wants to sort out indoor air quality in the region, with a simple, cost-effective solution, now available to all.

Spokesman and company co-founder, Chris Leighton says: “Think of AirZones as the Trustpilot of indoor air quality. If you could choose to go somewhere that you know has good, clean, healthy air, compared to somewhere with ‘dirtier/more polluted’ air, where would you choose to go? We are helping businesses deliver healthier air in order to attract more customers, however it also means less staff downtime, better concentration and better moods – literally, a better atmosphere!

“Air quality could well become a new competitive business differentiator, with people voting with their lungs. Our impartial, independent ratings are a step towards proper, honest environmental stewardship. We need AC to live comfortably in this region – but why risk suffering with health issues because of poor air quality?”

Before AirZones, it was difficult for a company to understand how to monitor air quality, and the complexity and cost of such activity put many off investigating. Especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, confidence in the safety and cleanliness of venues is the top priority for customers (3). Polluted indoor air is the number one factor in venue safety and cleanliness. An AirZones assessment ensures your premises has safe, clean and healthy air – which is provable to customers.

Why is air quality important?

Think for a minute about how careful you are about what you drink. You would never drink ‘dirty’ water, right? Yet, the air we breathe, some 11,000 litres a day (that’s roughly 10,997 litres more than the volume of water we drink each day), is circulated through every major organ in our body within seconds of passing our lips – and we mostly ignore it! It’s invisible pollutants in the air that are responsible for far more than lung disease, with the latest research showing head-to-toe harm, including heart disease, diabetes, dementia, liver problems, bladder cancer and brittle bones(4). Fertility, the development of foetuses, miscarriages as well as children’s brain development have all been shown to be affected by common airborne pollutants (5) – pollutants found every day in homes, restaurants, hotels, offices – in fact, everywhere we live, work and play in our built environment.

Recent research by the University of Chicago showed polluted air is a greater killer than smoking or even car crashes, in fact, more than war, terrorism, malaria, road related injuries, unsafe water and sanitation as well as alcohol and narcotics, combined (6)!

Chris explains: “It wasn’t until we were discussing where to meet for an evening meal with our children that the solution dawned. Understanding the importance of clean air, we had no idea where to book a table in Dubai, which restaurants were healthy, and which weren’t. We could easily see customer satisfaction ratings, prices, menus and pictures of the venues, but nothing about the health, cleanliness or air quality. We knew if we could see information about air quality, it would significantly influence our buying decision.

AirZones ties these two pain points together. The intention is that AirZones technology motivates the market to adjust to the new demands for better air quality.  Commercial premises will be motivated and driven to invest in clean air technology. As Chris adds: “We simply want a world where everyone can start breathing cleaner, healthier air.”

How it works

AirZones monitors air quality for around a month, using unobtrusive sensors and monitors. Around two million data points are gathered, analysed and assessed, using a combination of environmental science, mechanical engineering and chemistry.

Where low air quality is discovered, there are two options. Firstly, reduce pollutants being emitted into the air – by simply using AirZones’ impartial advice and recommendations on how to identify sources of pollutants and remove or reduce them.  Secondly, removal of pollutants from the air – by adopting air purification equipment or practices. AirZones is resolutely vendor-agnostic and does not sell any equipment. It only offers monitoring and assessment services, advice and the star rating.

AirZones’ unique Indoor Air Quality Star Rating is based on guidance from Dubai Government, the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and, in certain cases, references other well documented standards, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency or the European Union. 

After receiving a star rating, the AirZones team remains in contact with clients, offering continual support and product advice to help them maintain healthy air and further promote their healthy business premises.

References:

  1. Air pollution is now considered to be the world’s largest environmental health threat, accounting for 7 million deaths around the world every year.

https://unece.org/air-pollution-and-health#:~:text=Air%20pollution%20is%20now%20considered,pulmonary%20illnesses%20and%20heart%20disease.

  • The combined effects of ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution cause about seven million premature deaths every year, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections.

https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1

  • A recent study* from Tripadvisor found that for consumers thinking about future travel:

More than 9 out of 10 (92%) said cleanliness is the most important factor in selecting accommodations.

More than 8 in 10 (84%) said cleanliness or sanitization certificates are important when booking a travel experience.

Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) said it’s important to publicly display compliance to government safety standards.

https://ir.tripadvisor.com/news-releases/news-release-details/tripadvisor-launches-travel-safe-tools-making-it-easy-travelers

  • Although air pollution is well known to be harmful to the lung and airways, it can also damage most other organ systems of the body

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30419237/

  • short-term exposure to elevated levels of air pollutants was associated with higher risk for spontaneous pregnancy loss.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S001502821832154X

  • Particulate air pollution shortens lives globally, even more than cigarettes. There is no greater current risk to human health.

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