Why UAE residents must pay closer attention to their indoor air quality
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Why UAE residents must pay closer attention to their indoor air quality

Why UAE residents must pay closer attention to their indoor air quality

Poor indoor air quality reportedly leads to the premature deaths of 6.5 million people a year around the world

Abdulrahman Khansaheb is the Managing Director of Khansaheb Industries

The results are clear: UAE residents consider indoor air quality to be one of the top priorities in choosing where they live, where they work, or where their children go to school. Ninety-one per cent of residents consider indoor air quality to be important for their day-to-day health, with 75 per cent considering it very important. Meanwhile, 58 per cent believe they enjoy an improved immune system with better indoor air quality, while almost 66 per cent of residents believe indoor air quality leads to improved overall wellbeing.

Discussions on indoor air quality could not come at a more critical time. Although the pandemic is subsiding, it is clear that it is a public health threat which we will continue to have to live with. Ensuring that the air that we breathe, day-in, day-out, is as clean as possible presents a number of benefits: to residents in homes and offices, to public health officials having to prepare for future variants, to the operations of businesses impacted by lockdowns.

Yet clean indoor air is not only a matter for us today. Global public health bodies, including the World Health Organization, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the United Nations have highlighted the environmental risks of poor indoor health quality, emphasising that poor indoor air quality leads to the premature deaths of 6.5 million people a year globally, and can lead to serious illnesses, including respiratory and heart disease, alongside an increased risk of cancer. With those threats in place, it is unsurprising to discover how important a topic indoor air quality is for UAE residents.

Creating cleaner indoor air takes investment, and yet it is worth it. Traditional air conditioning units can be susceptible to mould build-up in their duct work, allowing pathogens to grow and multiply to then circulate in homes, offices, and schools over decades. Upgrading the ductwork which is used in buildings in the UAE, alongside ensuring that all projects under construction are using the most up to date ductwork, has to be a key priority for building designers and owners.

The issue of indoor air quality in the UAE has been well recognised by a number of government entities. Most notably, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment launched the National Air Quality Strategy (2021-2031). This collaborative strategy is a welcome step forward, looking to strengthen policy and governance frameworks at both a federal and local level, alongside promoting the implementation of cleaner and innovative technologies that can promote high-quality indoor air quality in buildings.

Such strategic steps forward are favourable, and come in line with the vision of our nation’s insightful leadership for improving the wellbeing of citizens and residents across the UAE. However, it is important to not lose the impetus in the release of this strategy. Alongside, we also important to implement the standards of the Eurovent Association for indoor air quality in UAE buildings.

Likewise, it is necessary to establish a national rating system for indoor air quality. It is important that UAE residents are clear on the quality of the indoor air in any given building. A rating system will allow residents to ensure that their home, their office, or their children’s school is compliant for indoor air quality.

The significance of indoor air quality cannot be overstated. It has not only been apparent during the pandemic. Ensuring that the air that UAE residents breathe, day-in, day-out, is clean and not a vehicle for pathogens has to be a considerable public health consideration. In the development of stronger regulations on measurement and rating of indoor air quality, we can ensure that the UAE continues to lead the world in public health.

Abdulrahman Khansaheb is the Managing Director of Khansaheb Industries

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