25% of Hospitals in Dangerously High Levels of Air Pollution Areas

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises a maximum concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) of 10μg/m3 for the annual average. Fine particulate matter is a hazardous air pollutant. So when concentrations exceed the WHO’s recommended limits, it represents a major public health concern.

25% of Hospitals in Dangerously High Levels of Air Pollution Areas

Unfortunately, a recent report revealed that far too many UK hospitals are situated in areas with dangerously high levels of air pollution. The report, Toxic Air at the Door of the NHS, found that over 2,000 UK health centres are located in areas where the atmospheric concentration of PM2.5 exceeds the WHO’s recommended limits.

According to the report, 248 UK hospitals are located in highly polluted areas. This accounts for around 25% of all hospitals in the UK.

Want to know whether your local hospital’s in an affected area? Check our guide to the best and worst areas in the UK for air pollution.

The Risks of Fine Particulate Matter

What is Fine Particulate Matter?

When we talk about “fine particulate matter”, we’re referring to a huge variety of chemical compounds and materials that are less than 2.4 micrometres in diameter. Some of them are natural and organic. Others are man-made, and some are toxic.

Why is Fine Particulate Matter Harmful?

When a person inhales fine particulate matter, because the particles are so small, they can enter the bloodstream. And once these particles are in the bloodstream, they may make their way to the lungs, brain, heart, and other organs.

As a result, even short-term exposure to PM2.5 can aggravate existing conditions, including asthma and allergies. But long-term exposure can lead to the development of serious conditions including heart disease, strokes, and lung cancer.

The Effect of Pollution on Hospitals

Every single day, hundreds of people spend extended periods of time in hospitals. Staff at all levels work long shifts. For patients, even a short-term visit can last hours. And long-term patients will also invite visitors, who may themselves spend hours onsite.

So if the hospital’s located in an area with high levels of air pollution, every day hundreds and hundreds of people will be exposed to dangerously high levels of toxic particles.

For the staff, who spend longer than anyone else onsite, this could lead to a variety of serious health problems in the long-term. For patients, many of whom are already in a vulnerable condition, air pollution could aggravate existing symptoms, or even give them new health risks to contend with.

And for visitors, who might show up to the hospital feeling perfectly well, onsite air pollution could ensure they leave feeling significantly worse.

Besides endangering staff, patients and visitors, air pollution also gives hospitals plenty of other problems in both the short- and the long-term. According to one study, up to 20,200 respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions each year can be linked to air pollution.

At a time when NHS waiting lists are posing a serious concern, anything that can add to patient waiting times must be viewed as a major issue that requires our immediate attention.

Which Areas of the Hospital Are Most at Risk From Air Pollution?

When it comes to air pollution, some hospitals will have more to worry about than others – for example, inner-city hospitals, and any health centre located near a major road.

But for all hospitals, the most at-risk areas will be:

  • Any location frequented by members of the public, including receptions and waiting rooms.
  • Areas where the most vulnerable patients stay, including wards and communal spaces, such as gardens.
  • Any part of the hospital used by children and young people.
  • Any room of the hospital with a window facing a road.

What Can Hospitals Do To Reduce the Risks of Air Pollution?

The Asthma and Lung UK charity recently made a few suggestions for initiatives that could help address the high levels of air pollution around UK hospitals:

  • The UK government should enshrine the WHO’s recommended PM2.5 limits into law.
  • There should be more Clean Air Zones in towns and cities across the UK, where traffic flow is controlled to reduce air pollution. Read our full guide to the link between speed limits and air pollution.
  • Hospitals could start air quality monitoring schemes in places where their most vulnerable patients congregate.

How to Get Cleaner Air in Your Hospital Today

A high quality air filtration system can help you significantly improve the air quality in your hospital – and quickly.

Our Blueair HealthProtectTM air purifiers are fitted with advanced HEPASilent technology. This is capable of catching 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns, which includes PM2.5 fine air particles. But at the same time, they’ll capture many other hazardous and toxic air pollutants. And crucially for a hospital, they can also capture and kill 99% of viruses and bacteria.

Take a look at our specialist air purification systems for hospitals.

 

Air Quality & Pollution in GP Surgeries – The Effects

Asthma and Lung UK recently tested air quality levels at GP surgeries and health centres across the UK.

Their report, Toxic Air at the Door of the NHS, revealed that more than 2,000 UK health centres are located in areas where the levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exceed World Health Organisation limits.

The World Health Organisation recommends a maximum concentration of fine particulate matter of 10μg/m3 for the annual average. Any concentrations above this limit pose a serious health risk.

This includes 2,220 GP practices and 248 hospitals. In England, that amounts to 1 in 3 GP surgeries and 1 in 4 hospitals.

Is your GP surgery or health centre in an area with high pollution levels? Learn more about the best and worst areas in the UK for air quality.

What is Fine Particulate Matter?

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is a hazardous air pollutant. It’s composed of a huge variety of chemical compounds and materials, some of which are toxic. Common sources of fine particulate matter include traffic and road transport, wood burning, industrial processes, and manufacturing. Some fine particulate matter, such as sea spray and pollen, is naturally occurring.

While natural fine particulate matter is non-toxic, it can still lead to certain health problems, particularly in people with allergies or breathing difficulties.

PM2.5, the fine particulate matter highlighted in this report, is matter composed of particles less than 2.4 micrometres in diameter.

Read our complete guide to hazardous and toxic air pollutants to learn more about fine particulate matter.

The Effects of Air Pollution in GP Surgeries

Air pollution in a GP’s surgery is a particularly critical issue, as a large proportion of people who visit the surgery will already be in a vulnerable position. It poses a risk to staff too – long-term exposure can increase the risks of developing serious lung conditions.

PM2.5 is so small that, after inhalation, it can enter the bloodstream. After this it may make its way to the heart, lungs, brain, and other organs.

So prolonged exposure to PM2.5 can lead to asthma, heart disease, strokes, and lung cancer. It can also aggravate existing conditions.

One study estimated that up to 20,200 respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions each year can be linked to air pollution.

How Can We Improve Air Quality in GP Surgeries?

The Asthma and Lung UK report makes a few recommendations for improving the air quality in GP surgeries:

Each of these initiatives could help improve air quality in GP surgeries in the long-term. But for a sustainable short-term solution, surgeries and health centres should also invest in a high quality air filtration system.

Our Blueair air purifiers are fitted with advanced HEPASilent technology, which can catch 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns. This includes PM2.5 fine air particles, as well as many other hazardous and toxic air pollutants. They can also capture and kill 99% of viruses and bacteria.

Take a look at our air purification systems for GP surgeries and other healthcare settings.

Air Purifier vs Dehumidifier vs Air Conditioner – What’s The Difference?

Air purifiers, dehumidifiers and air conditioners all help you control the quality of the air in an indoor environment. But each affects the air in different ways, and for different purposes.

So in this post we’ll examine the difference between air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners, before explaining which sort of environment each is suited for.

What is an Air Purifier?

Air purifiers clean the air by removing potentially harmful particles with the use of filters. The most advanced air purifiers use high-efficiency particulate air filters – or HEPA filters – to remove up to 99.97% of particles from the air down to 0.1 micron.

An advanced air purifier can help rid rooms of:

As such, air purifiers can help reduce the risks of air pollution in public buildings situated near busy roads. They can also help people manage allergies and other health conditions.

Air purifiers come in a range of sizes, and different sizes are suitable for different settings. You can get compact air purifiers for the home, and larger and more powerful air purifiers for commercial and industrial settings.

Advanced air purifiers can even trap and kill viruses and bacteria. So air purifiers also act as an essential part of the air filtration system for infection control in healthcare settings.

What is a Dehumidifier?

Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air. They do this in one of two ways: Compressor dehumidifiers draw air through a filter over cold coils, causing moisture in the air to condense and drip into a water tank. Desiccant dehumidifiers, meanwhile, use an absorbent material to extract moisture from the air. When this material is heated, the moisture drips into a water tank.

The type of dehumidifier you use will depend on the temperature of the environment. Compressor dehumidifiers are best suited for heated indoor spaces, whereas desiccant dehumidifiers work better in lower temperatures, in rooms such as garages or basements.

Beyond this consideration, you can use a dehumidifier in any space that requires some moisture control. They’re good for preventing mould in poorly ventilated buildings, for example. They can also be used to set the ideal humidity levels for storing certain goods. Dehumidifiers are also regularly used in operating theatres, where excessive humidity can lead to risks with the anaesthetic.

What is an Air Conditioner?

Finally, air conditioners are used to control the temperature in a room. Some refer to air conditioners as “coolers”, and they are predominantly used to cool the air in a room. They use a combination of compressors, coils, and refrigerant chemicals to draw the warm air from a room, replacing it with cooler air.

Sometimes the term “air conditioning” is used to refer to a buildings entire central environmental control system. So technically, an air conditioner can warm a room, as well as cool it. To warm a room, rather than passing air over cooling elements, an air conditioner will instead pass it over heating elements.

Also, air conditioning systems usually include a series of filters to remove certain particles from the air. So air conditioners do purify the air to some extent, but that’s not their main function. These filters will not be fine enough to catch the sort of particles that a HEPA filter can catch.

Air conditioners are used whenever temperature control is required. They’re a standard feature in many homes in warmer parts of the world. They’re also used to make working environments more comfortable through maintaining a safe and agreeable temperature.

Air Filtration Systems for Healthcare Settings

Air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners often work together to create the optimum environmental conditions for controlled settings.

In an operating theatre, for example, an advanced air filtration system will ensure that the air in the room is:

  • Effectively filtered and evenly re-circulated to minimise the risk of   pathogens
  • The optimum temperature for both the patient and the theatre staff, so that the staff can work comfortably for longer periods, while the patient is neither at risk of hypothermia nor heat shock.
  • The optimum humidity, again for staff comfort, and to prevent any risks with anaesthetic or other materials.

You can read our full guide to getting the right temperature and humidity levels in operating theatres here.

Whether you run a hospital, an office, or a school, we can help you meet all relevant air quality standards while keeping your staff and service users as safe and as comfortable as possible.

Get in touch to talk to our friendly team of expert infection control consultants and we’ll help you find a solution that works for you.

How Air Pollution Harms Children in Healthcare Settings

A 2018 report revealed that thousands of UK health centres are located in areas with unsafe levels of air pollution.

The World Health Organisation recommends certain limits on the concentration of fine particulate matter in the atmosphere. This report found that over 2,000 UK health centres are located in areas where the concentration of fine particulate matter exceeds the WHO’s limits.

This means that millions of patients and practitioners in the UK may be exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution on a daily basis.

Impact of Air Pollution on Children

When inhaled, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is small enough to pass through the lungs and enter the bloodstream, leading to a number of health problems.

Many vulnerable groups use UK health centres, and air pollution poses a great risk to everyone. However, trust managers might be particularly concerned with the effect that air pollution has on the children that visit their centres.

Air pollution can have a serious impact on a child’s development, as breathing polluted air can lead to fatigue and a lack of concentration. In the short term, air pollution can make existing conditions worse, such as asthmas and allergies. Long-term exposure can lead to much more serious conditions.

What Causes Air Pollution?

Here are some of the most common sources of air pollution in public areas:

  • Traffic – Vehicle emissions can contain many potentially harmful pollutants, including particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide (NO₂).
  • Cleaning – Some cleaning products contain pollutants known as non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs). Using these products in a poorly-ventilated area can lead to the creation of atmospheric formaldehyde. As well as causing irritation in the eyes and upper airways, formaldehyde is a carcinogen.
  • Mould – Mould can be an issue in any building of any age. If you don’t address a mould problem, it will spread, which can lead to mould spores in the atmosphere. Inhaling these spores can lead to a number of health problems.
  • Weather – Strong winds can carry pollutants over long distances. As well as the pollutants from traffic, winds can also bring pollutants from other sources, including farms and factories. On top of this, air pollution levels are generally higher on still or warmer days.

You can read our full guide to the numerous causes of air pollution.

How to Test Air Quality

The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) routinely publishes air pollution alerts and forecasts. You can use this service to assess the air quality in your area on any given day.

Though this service is useful, it poses certain limitations. DEFRA’s reports will give you an idea of the pollution levels across wide areas of the country. They don’t account for local air quality concerns, so you cannot rely on them for a reliable picture of the exposure risks in your area.

Our indoor air quality monitoring service can give you a much more accurate overview of the air pollution risks in your internal environment. In addition, ongoing exposure monitoring can help you determine just how at-risk individuals in your building might be. These specialist processes will give you a detailed report highlighting any problem areas, with advice on steps you can take to improve the situation.

Find out more about our air quality monitoring services for hospitals and healthcare settings and how we can help you.

We also offer a range of Blueair air purifiers. The HealthProtect range is suitable for hospital, GP and dental surgery waiting rooms, treatment rooms and other areas where pollution ingress and the transfer of bacteria and viruses is a concern.

 

Air Purifier Guide: What You Need to Know

If you’ve never used an air purifier before, you might be wondering – do they work? And are they right for you?

So we put together this short air purifier guide, to answer some of the most common questions you might ask when choosing your first air purifier.

What Do Air Purifiers Do?

Air purifiers cycle the air in a room, removing any potentially harmful particles as they do so. They use a series of filters to capture airborne particles as small as 0.1 micron. Good air purifiers use high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA filters) to trap around 99.97% of all airborne particles in a room.

Good air purifiers work quickly and efficiently. For example, the Blueair air purifier has a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) that will completely filter the air in a room 4.8 times an hour. And on its lowest setting, it uses less energy than a small lightbulb.

The Benefits of Air Purifiers

Air purifiers can help to relieve the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies, as well as removing hazardous and toxic air pollutants. They can also trap and kill viruses and bacteria carried through the air.

HEPA filters can catch many potentially harmful particles in the room, including:

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Mould
  • Pet dander
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

So if you suffer from asthma, hayfever, or any kind of pet allergies, air purifiers can help you manage your symptoms. You can breathe easier and sleep better.

Air purifiers can also capture certain hazardous and toxic air pollutants, including particulate matter from car exhausts. So if you live or work nearby a busy main road, air purifiers can help lessen the impact of air pollution.

Finally, air purifiers can trap viruses and bacteria. And when bacteria and viruses are trapped in a HEPA filter, they can no longer reproduce. This means that air purifiers don’t just trap viruses and bacteria – they also kill them.

It’s for this reason that air purifiers play a huge role in infection control in hospitals and healthcare settings.

Air Purifier Maintenance

Air purifiers require regular maintenance to keep them working at their best. Over time, the HEPA filter will get clogged, making it less effective at cycling air and trapping particles.

You should change the HEPA filter in domestic air purifiers at least once every two years. But in a commercial or healthcare setting, you need to change the HEPA filter a lot more frequently – every six months or so.

It all depends on the size of your air purifier and how often you run it. And in a commercial or healthcare setting, there may be certain air quality regulations you need to meet that’ll specify how often you should maintain your air purifiers.

You can read our complete guide to air purifier maintenance here.

Which Air Purifier is Right For You?

If you’re looking for an air purifier for a commercial setting, we’re here to help. We specialise in industrial air purification for healthcare. But we can also advise you on air purification solutions for schools, universities, offices, and other workplaces.

Get in touch to talk to our friendly team of expert air purification consultants and we’ll help you find a solution that works for you.

Health & Safety in Operating Theatres – Hazards & Precautions

Just like any other working environment, working in an operating theatre comes with numerous occupational hazards. However, in an operating theatre, these hazards can mean life or death. Even the smallest accident could seriously jeopardise the patient’s safety.

The question of health & safety in operating theatres is a deep one. Organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) regularly produce extensive documents advising on theatre safety on both an operational and a managerial level.

So in this post, we’ll provide an essential overview of the sort of hazards theatre staff may face, and the sort of precautions that could help them manage risk. Please note that in this post we’ll focus on staff safety rather than patient safety.

Also be sure to check out our introduction to improving quality and efficiency in operating theatres.

Common Hazards in Operating Theatres

Speaking as broadly as possible, we might categorise the common hazards staff face in operating theatres as follows:

  • Accidents, including slips, trips, and falls.
  • Exposure to hazardous substances.
  • Contamination and infection.

Let’s look at each of these hazards in turn, along with some of the precautions that could help prevent accidents.

Accidents in Operating Theatres – Slips, Trips and Falls

Just like in any other workplace, operating theatre staff can slip on spilled fluids, or trip and fall on a loose wire or a misplaced bit of equipment.

One of the many recommendations made in the NHS Productive Operating Theatre strategy concerns the layout of operating theatres. They advise removing any non-essential items from the area, and assigning each object a set place in the room.

These recommendations are primarily in place to ensure operational efficiency. If everyone knows where everything is, then operations can proceed with fewer interruptions.

But a well-ordered operating theatre is also a much safer operating theatre. If there are no non-essential items in the area, and if everything is in its right place, then in theory there’ll be no obstacles for theatre staff to trip over as they carry out their work.

The Importance of Good Theatre Hygiene

The guidelines also recommend regularly cleaning and maintaining the operating theatre environment. This is mainly for patient safety, to reduce the risks of infection. But it can also contribute to staff safety. Promptly cleaning any fluids spilled on the floor makes it less likely that anyone will slip and fall.

The right equipment can make a huge difference here. For example, non-drip absorbent operating theatre floor mats can soak up any spilled fluids before they become a health and safety hazard. Then, after the operation, they can simply be picked up, discarded and replaced. This will reduce the turnaround time between operations while also removing the need to mop, so staff won’t have to worry about wet and slippery surfaces.

Exposure to Hazardous Substances

Operating theatre procedures make use of a number of substances which can pose a health hazard  if staff are exposed to them for long periods.

A key culprit in the operating theatre is Isoflurane, which anaesthetists use to maintain a state of general anaesthesia. If inhaled in its vapor form, Isoflurane can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. But long-term exposure can lead to chronic health conditions, including renal, hepatic, and reproductive disorders.

Like all potentially hazardous substances, so long as it’s properly stored, and so long as your equipment is properly maintained, then Isoflurane should pose no problems. But as the substance is so volatile, even the smallest spillage or leak poses a health hazard.

Prevention, and the Cure

Another key recommendation in the NHS Productive Operating Theatre strategy is to stay on top of your equipment maintenance. Again, this is primarily to ensure patient safety, as you cannot depend on faulty equipment to do the job you need it to do. But it’s also to ensure staff safety, to ensure that, for example, any leaks are fixed before they pose a problem.

Wearing adequate PPE when handling or cleaning substances will also help you manage this hazard. But for total peace of mind, get a workplace exposure monitoring report for any area of your hospital where staff are exposed to hazardous substances.

A comprehensive report will include clear and actionable recommendations, so you’ll know exactly where the risks lie and exactly what to do to protect your staff.

Contamination and Infection in Operating Theatres

Infection control measures in operating theatres put the patient’s needs first, as surgical site infections (SSIs) account for around 20% of all hospital-acquired infections.

But of course, any measure that protects patients from infection will also protect staff from infection.

Operating theatres must be aseptic, highly-sterile, and restricted environments. Achieving this requires good air ventilation, strategic zoning, and numerous infection control precautions.

You can read our full guide to cleaning for infection prevention and control in operating theatres here.

PPE also plays a huge part in protecting both staff and patient from infection. It’s not just a question of selecting the right PPE for the task at hand. Just as important is applying and removing the PPE in the correct order.

Health and Safety in Operating Theatres – Essential Support, Solutions, and Guidance

We offer many services and solutions that can help you stay on top of health and safety in the operating theatre.

Our services include:

  • Air purification
  • Face-fit testing for PPE effectiveness
  • Workplace exposure monitoring services
  • Washroom hygiene solutions
  • Fluid management solutions, including absorbent floor mats
  • Cleaning equipment, disposal containers, and sanitising chemicals

Our experts are always on-hand to discuss your needs. So if you’d like some guidance health and safety in operating theatres, get in touch to talk to an expert today.

 

Do I Need an Asbestos Air Quality Test? A Complete Guide

According to a recent BBC enquiry, over 90% of NHS trusts report that they have hospitals containing asbestos.

Though the NHS claims that their strict regulations ensure that any asbestos in their buildings is safely contained, this should act as a wake-up call. Not just for healthcare settings, but for schools, universities, offices, and other workplaces. Because asbestos is potentially lethal, and it’s a lot more common than you might realise.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a silicate mineral composed of long and thin fibrous crystals. Each crystal fibre contains microscopic “fibrils”. If the asbestos is struck, rubbed, or cut, or if the material deteriorates, these microscopic fibrils can be released into the atmosphere.

Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

Inhaling asbestos fibres can lead to numerous lung conditions, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. It can also lead to long-term inflammation and scarring of the lungs, a condition named after the material itself: Asbestosis.

What Buildings Contain Asbestos?

Though we now recognise asbestos as a serious health and safety hazard, unfortunately asbestos was a common building material for decades. Asbestos is solid, stable, a good electrical insulator and highly fire resistant. It wasn’t until the 1970s that we became aware of the health risks. As such, many modern buildings constructed before the 1980s are very likely to contain asbestos as part of their structure.

What is an Asbestos Air Quality Test?

An asbestos air quality test will measure the levels of asbestos fibres in the air. The test can involve background air monitoring to establish the base levels of airborne particles. It can also involve exposure monitoring, which involves testing areas where people are likely to gather and work to assess likely exposure levels.

Following an asbestos air quality test, you’ll receive a detailed report outlining the potential risks on your premises, which should contain some recommendations for how you can improve the air quality for everyone.

If you’d like to know more about how air quality tests work, head here to read our full guide to testing and improving air quality in hospitals, schools and workplaces.

Do I Need an Asbestos Air Quality Test?

Asbestos isn’t really used in construction anymore. But if you work in a building constructed between 1950 and 1990, then it’s very likely that your workplace contains asbestos. And if that asbestos is ever disturbed, or even if it deteriorates, then it could pose a serious health risk.

But even more recently-built workplaces should consider asbestos air quality tests. If an older building was demolished to make way for your workplace, then there may still be asbestos particles lingering in the air. In fact, any demolition in your surrounding area may have released asbestos into the air, which might have been carried by the wind to pose a risk elsewhere.

For decades, asbestos was everywhere. So for total peace of mind, all schools, healthcare settings and workplaces should consider an asbestos air quality test. Because the earlier you know about your exposure risk levels, the earlier you can act to improve the health quality for everyone.

Arrange an Air Quality Test for Your Hospital, School, or Workplace

We specialise in workplace air quality monitoring services. We can monitor your staff’s exposure levels to any potentially harmful substances in your workplace, including asbestos. This will help you to understand your risk levels so you can devise an air quality solution that works for you. Head here to learn more about our bespoke air quality monitoring services.

Air purifiers can filter many harmful particles. You can get small standalone purifiers for single rooms, as well as larger systems for larger rooms, some capable of achieving five air changes per hour. Head here to browse our range of air purifiers for a range of settings.

Best & Worst Air Quality in the UK: Towns and Cities

What are the most and least polluted towns and cities in the UK?

The World Health Organisation routinely publishes their Ambient Air Quality Database. This lists any areas in the world where fine-particle air pollution levels above 10 micrograms per cubic metre.

Breathing polluted air can make certain health conditions worse, and in serious cases can lead to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory infections.

According to the latest WHO report, 99% of the world’s population live in areas where air pollution exceeds the guideline limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre. So what are the current best and worst towns for air quality in the UK?

Towns & Cities with the Worst Air Quality in the UK

According to the latest WHO figures, the five worst towns and cities in the UK for air pollution are:

  • Warrington
  • Bristol
  • Stanford-Le-Hope
  • Storrington
  • Swansea

It’s important to remember that air pollution levels are never constant. They can change on a daily basis. So the most polluted towns in the UK at the time of the WHO report might not be the most polluted towns by the time you read this.

Though in total, there are 42 cities across the UK where air pollution is at dangerous levels. In fact, around 97% of homes in the UK exceed the WHO guideline limits.

Towns & Cities with Best Air Quality in the UK

Not one of the 42 at-risk towns and cities in the UK is in Scotland. Cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow still experience air pollution, of course. But the concentrations of harmful pollutants in the air fall below the WHO limits.

Other areas with good air quality include:

  • Devon
  • Peak District
  • Mid Wales
  • Cornwall

What Affects Air Quality?

Many things can influence the air quality in an area, including:

  • Heavy traffic
  • Agriculture
  • Industrial activity
  • Burning fuel

Though most air pollution is caused by human activity, pollen and sea spray are also classed as potentially-harmful pollutants.

Wind direction is another major factor, and it’s partially due to the wind that air quality can change in an area on a daily basis.

You can read our full guide to harmful air pollutants, and the activity that creates them.

How to Check the Air Quality in Your Area

Use the IQ Air tool to get a real time map of air quality levels across the UK.

You can also use the Address Pollution tool, which lets you “demand action” if your home exceeds WHO air quality guidelines.

How to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home or Organisation

Local authorities and business owners are actively working to improve the air quality in their towns, cities, and organisations.

One key strategy is to introduce a speed limit for air quality. Head here to read our full guide to the link between vehicle speed and harmful emissions.

Other strategies include working with air quality consultants, and using air purifiers to improve the interior air quality in buildings like schools, universities, offices, hospitals, and private homes.

Want to improve the air quality in your organisation?

We offer bespoke air quality monitoring systems for all kinds of workplaces. We can assess the air quality of your premises and advise on a solution to help your staff and service users breathe cleaner, healthier air. We also stock a range of powerful air purifiers suitable for a range of environments, from open plan offices to operating theatres.

Get in touch to talk to one of our air purification experts today.

 

How Often Should You Change the HEPA Filter in Air Purifiers?

A High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter can catch harmful pollutants in the air while also trapping and killing bacteria and viruses. As part of an advanced air purification system, a HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of airborne particles down to 0.1 microns.

What are HEPA Filters used for?

HEPA filters are an essential infection prevention and control precaution in hospitals and other healthcare settings. They can also improve the air quality in schools, universities, offices, and other workplaces.

Over time, the HEPA filter will get clogged with particles and pollutants. This will make it harder for the air purifier to cycle air. So in order to maintain maximum efficiency, you’ll need to change your HEPA filter every so often.

How Long Does a HEPA Filter Last?

It depends on a few things. First, the size of the air purifier you’re using. Second, the setting in which you’re using it. Third, how often you use your air purifier.

If you’re using an air purifier for the home, it’s unlikely that you’ll keep your purifier running 24/7. Plus, your air purifier will be relatively small, and you’ll use it in a relatively small space. So HEPA filters in residential settings should last for a few years before you need to change them.

But if you’re using an air purifier in a commercial or healthcare setting, you’ll be using a much larger and more powerful air purifier to clean the air in a much larger space. You may also have to meet certain strict industry regulations for your industry, including the HSE Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) obligations. As such, you’ll have to change commercial or healthcare HEPA filters much more frequently than you would in the home.

How Often Should You  Change Your HEPA Filter?

Consult the air purifier’s manufacturer for the most reliable guide to when you should change your HEPA filter. But as a general guide:

There are some situations when you might need to change your HEPA filter more regularly. If you notice a musty smell, for example, it might indicate that your HEPA filter is faulty, and needs changing. You should also regularly inspect your air purifiers, and if the HEPA filter seems damaged, you should change it immediately.

Can You Clean a HEPA Filter Yourself?

Some online guides claim you can prolong the life of your HEPA filters by cleaning them yourself. They advise rinsing filters in cold water, using a vacuum or an air blower to remove the dust, or even banging the filter to remove clogs of particles.

However, unless the manufacturer explicitly recommends it, you should avoid cleaning HEPA filters yourself. This is because HEPA filters are generally made from delicate materials, so any type of cleaning could easily damage them.

If the manufacturer does say you can clean your HEPA filter, follow their guidelines to the letter to avoid damaging the filter.

Advanced Air Purification Systems For Work, School and Home

We specialise in advanced air purification systems for hospitals and other healthcare settings, as well as for schools, universities, offices, and other workplaces.

Head here to browse our complete range of air purification systems and replacement filters.

Need an air purification system for the home? Visit The Conscious Parent for a comprehensive range of purifiers and filters.

What is an Air Quality Consultant?

An air quality consultant assesses the air quality in hospitals, schools, warehouses, offices, and other indoor environments.

Their work will help you ensure that anybody who accesses your premises can breathe cleaner air– whether they’re employees, patients, students or customers. They’ll also help you achieve compliance with certain air quality regulations.

What Does an Air Quality Consultant Do?

An air quality consultant will begin by testing the air quality on your premises. They can test for dust, carbon, pollutants, temperature, humidity, and potentially harmful chemicals.

Head here to read our guide to how air quality consultants test air quality.

Once they’ve assessed the air quality, an air quality consultant will produce a detailed report. This report will highlight any potential causes for concern, and it’ll advise you on actions you can take to improve the air quality on your premises.

Air Quality Regulations UK

The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 is the main legislation concerning air quality in the UK. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland each have their own separate legislation.

These regulations set legally binding limits for concentrations of certain pollutants in outdoor air. They’re therefore of particular relevance for planners and local government.

The legislation that all businesses and organisations should be aware of is called Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).

Under COSHH, all employers have a legal responsibility to reduce their employees’ exposure to hazardous substances. You can read a complete guide to your legal responsibilities when it comes to air quality. But in short, you should monitor for air quality at least once every 12 months to ensure your environment falls within the recommended workplace exposure limits (WELs).

The Benefits of Air Quality Consultations

There are good reasons to work with an air quality consultant beyond achieving COSHH compliancy.

Air pollution makes people sick. It can lead to headaches, nausea, sinus congestion, shortness of breath, irritations, and coughs. It can make asthma, allergies, and other conditions worse. If you work with certain harmful chemicals, prolonged exposure can lead to serious chronic health conditions, or even death.

Cleaner air is crucial to health, happiness, and general wellbeing. So cleaner air means less illness, which means fewer sick days. Help your people breathe cleaner air and you’ll contribute to a more positive and productive environment overall.

Book an Air Quality Consultation

We offer workplace air quality monitoring services. We can monitor your staff’s exposure to any potentially harmful substances in your workplace. This will help you understand your risk levels, so you can devise an air quality solution that works for you.

We specialise in healthcare settings. We’ve helped both NHS and private healthcare settings with bespoke air quality monitoring services, from monitoring Ethyl Chloride levels in anaesthetic rooms to checking cobalt and sodium levels in boiler rooms. In addition, we’ve also carried out dust monitoring in fracture clinic plaster rooms and orthotics laboratories.

But whatever your workplace, we can carry out a bespoke air quality consultation and exposure monitoring service that’s tailored to meet your needs.

Find out more about our Workplace Exposure Monitoring Services or get in touch to talk to one of our experts.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

As well as monitoring your indoor air quality, you will need to take steps to improve it. We have a range of commercial air purification systems designed for workplaces, hospitals and schools can catch 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns – this includes viruses and bacteria as well as larger particles related to air pollution from vehicles.

Browse our commercial air purifier range fit for hospitals, healthcare setting, schools and workplaces.