Can Europe deliver clean air?

Did you know Europeans spend 90% of their time indoors? This was just one of many figures presented by the European Commission at this year’s annual Green Week. The event, organised by DG Environment and DG Interpretation, invited participants to “shoot the breeze” with policy makers, as this year’s theme of “Cleaner Air for All” invited discussion on how to help shape the future of EU air policy.

Of particular interest, one session on indoor air quality, the only session of Green Week dedicated specifically to this issue, emphasized that clean indoor air, thanks to ventilation and filtration systems, brings real and measureable benefits to health and productivity in the home and the workplace, while also guaranteeing higher energy efficiency. Ventilation as a key solution to the issue is something we agree with, and that’s why when building our very own Passive House, we have ensured the absolute highest standards of ventilation and even have a successful blower door test to prove it.

At the session, “Only one air: better indoor air for better health”, the panel discussed the main factors affecting indoor air quality and associated health impacts. The negative impacts of poor indoor air quality were also highlighted as an inequity issue, as it is those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who are disproportionately impacted. The poorest communities tend to be found in the vicinity of industrial areas and inner cities, and are more susceptible to poor air quality, dampness in indoor air, and substandard indoor heating appliances.

Timing of the event was fitting, as the Commission is currently reviewing its air policies and aims to deliver a strategy later in the year. When all is said and done at the end of the day, however, it is actions that speak louder than words. Yes, in the spirit of Green Week participants were welcomed with canvas laptop bags and booklets printed on process chlorine free recycled paper (PCF), but the real test will be the deliverance of the EU policy on air. Can the Commission deliver? Time will tell!

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