Be watchful of indoor air quality, says pulmonologist - GulfToday

Be watchful of indoor air quality, says pulmonologist


A Wartsila diagram on how technology converts captured indoor carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons or fuels.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

A specialist pulmonologist in Sharjah has eight suggestions for indoor air quality, specifically for carbon dioxide reduction.

“Indoor air quality probably is not top of the mind for most people. (But), the World Health Organisation (said) pollutant levels of indoor air may run two to five times higher than outdoor levels. So, it should be a concern, because we are probably not breathing clean air,” said Dr Arshad Altaf of the Prime Specialist Medical Centre.

He enumerated the carbon dioxide rates detrimental to health. The highest is at 40,000 parts per million (the mass of a chemical or contaminate per unit volume of water) which he described as “immediately harmful due to oxygen deprivation and may even result in death.”

Carbon dioxide of 5,000 ppm indoors “indicates unusual air conditions where high levels of other gases also could be present and toxicity, as well as oxygen deprivation, could occur.”

Altaf was interviewed since among the 130 companies from Finland, taking part at the “Expo 2020 Dubai,” are in the sustainable solutions and renewable energy sectors such as Wartsila. Wartsila, in the Gulf through the UAE since 1992, recently invested 500,000 Euros (Dhs2 million) in the Finland-based power-to-x start-up Soletair Power Oy, the developer of a “concept and technology” to improve indoor air quality.

The innovation was mentioned by Wartsila Energy Business-Business Development director Matti Rautkivi, when asked by Gulf Today, during the Aug.20, 2019 Press Visit of the Wartsila main headquarters in Helsinki, what the 185-year-old global company would present to the world through “Expo 2020 Dubai.”

“Our company and Soletair Power Oy intend to demonstrate the technology at the Finland’s ‘Snow Cape’ Pavilion. The technology captures carbon dioxide from the building’s ventilation and combines it with hydrogen produced with renewable energy sources. This process creates hydrocarbons such as synthetic methane,” Rautkivi explained, adding that the partnership “will provide development and commercialisation support,” aside from the seed fund. 

Over in Sharjah, Altaf was asked of diseases and deaths related to high carbon dioxide levels inside classrooms and workplaces.

This, as Rautkivi had stated that the main benefit of the Finnish indoor air quality technology is “increased human efficiency: 20 per cent decrease of carbon dioxide indoors which increases strategic thinking and concentration by 20 per cent and sleeping quality by 17 per cent,” based on international research studies.

Altaf highlighted the incidence of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), a consequence of poor indoor air quality due to increased carbon dioxide concentration, among other causes.

SBS sufferers go through “acute discomfort” namely drowsiness; sleepiness; stagnant stale; stuffy air; poor concentration; loss of attention; increased heart rate; headache; eye, nose, throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; fatigue; and sensitivity to odours, particularly if the carbon dioxide levels were at 1,000 to 5,000 ppm.

These disappear when out of the “sick buildings.”

Altaf’s suggestions for indoor air quality in accordance to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, strictly adhered to by the Dubai Municipality:

* Limited smoking in designated areas of the buildings.

* Installation of automatic sensors throughout the building to adjust temperature, humidity. Building owners and managers must meet the minimum requirements for adequate indoor air quality.

* Installation of air filters, air inlets and exhaust fans throughout the vicinity to reduce the possibility of odour, smoke and other air contaminants entering the ventilation system.

* Installation of carbon dioxide and indoor air quality detectors as well as automatic ventilation control at conference rooms, classrooms, meeting halls and enclosed offices.

* Increased natural ventilation through open windows and spaces.

* Use of good quality air purifiers.

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