New UK Clean Air Strategy 2019

25th January 2019

In response to growing public and legal pressure, last week (14th January 2019) the UK Government published their much-anticipated Clean Air Strategy 2019. The policy paper comes in the wake of an expanding evidence base that identifies the dangers of air pollution to public health and the staggering economic burden this has on the UK economy – calculated in the region of £18.6 billion between now and 2035. The strategy has been recognised mostly for its ambition – to go beyond existing EU standards – but has also received much criticism for lacking detail on how to tackle air quality issues and achieve these targets.

The UK has traditionally been subject to EU Legislation on air pollution but with the imminent withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the UK will no longer have to follow these laws. As such, the recently published Clean Air Strategy 2019 is the UK Government’s policy response to prepare for the upcoming void in national air quality legislation.

The strategy recognises that air quality is now considered the largest environmental health risk in the UK and recent studies have found that, although the problem has been historically thought of as one that affects sensitive demographics such as the elderly and people with underlying respiratory problems, air pollution can have a negative impact on everybody’s health.

The strategy also recognises that air pollution comes from a number of sources and has organised the paper to focus action on emissions from transport, at home, from farming, and from industry. Given the nature of air pollutants, we may be affected by those from a variety of emissions categories.  However, in busy cities, for example, we are likely to be more affected by those arising from transport and at home (which may also arise in an office environment).

With studies showing that people now spend more than 85% of their time indoors, it is important to understand air quality within our buildings; allowing us to implement measures to improve indoor air quality and reduce risk to occupants.

Within buildings we are not only at risk from those pollutants that are generated indoors – such as Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOCs), which are emitted by a wide variety of chemicals found in furnishings and cleaning products – but also at risk of external pollutants – such as Particulate Matter (PM) emitted from fossil fuel powered vehicle – that migrate indoors through open windows and doors, as well as mechanical ventilation systems that are common in commercial buildings.

The S2 Partnership have experience in carrying our Indoor Air Quality Assessments that will help to build up a profile of air quality in buildings, and an experienced consultant will be able to provide improvement measures to reduce exposure to air pollutants and provide occupants with safe air to breathe.

The S2 Partnership is a GRESB Premier Partner and assists members with health & well-being and environmental agendas. The S2 Partnership provides effective occupational safety support, health & safety management systems, risk assessments, auditing, training and competent support. We provide practical and commercially-aware advice to ensure risk is identified and managed proactively. If you would like to commission an air monitoring assessment or discuss your health & safety requirements, please contact our expert team.