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Indoor air quality: JRC's contribution to guidelines for health-based ventilation in Europe

In the framework of the 2013 EU Year of Air and the revision of ambient air legislation in the EU

On 20 February, a workshop hosted by the European Parliament focused on the presentation of health-based ventilation guidelines in Europe and their impact on ambient/indoor air quality policies and energy policies. 

The European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), together with WHO and HEAL (Health and Environment Alliance), contributed to the panel which discussed the impact of health-based ventilation guidelines on policies related to clean air.

The event, based on the outcome of the HealthVent project, was organised by EFA (the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patient's Associations) in the framework of the EU Year of Air 2013; it was attended by 60 policy makers and other stakeholders (European Commission services, WHO, European Ventilation Industry Association, EU construction product manufacturers' association, representatives of patients’ organisations, research institutions and NGOs.

During the workshop, recommendations were drafted for a holistic approach (requiring integrated research strategies and policy initiatives), aimed at defining the building/urban/indoor air quality component in a global sustainability perspective.

In the research domain, a multidisciplinary approach was recommended, in order to better investigate the correlations between exposure to indoor air pollution, ventilation and health effects.

healthvent logoIn the regulatory domain, several initiatives were proposed, including:

  • development of a common regulation in Europe on ventilation rates, which would harmonize calculation practices among countries and ensure that the required ventilation rates are health-based and implemented in connection with appropriate source control strategies - so that both health protection and rationalisation of economic and energy expenditure are achieved;
  • development of a harmonized product labelling criteria to be used as a part of ventilation rate design specification, in line with the two harmonization frameworks for indoor products labelling and health-based evaluation which were developed by the EC's Joint Research Centre (ECA Reports n. 27, 2012, and the upcoming n. 29, 2013, respectively);
  • inclusion of indoor air quality and its auditing in the future recast of the Energy Performance Buildings Directive (EPBD) and in the revision of ventilation regulations (see harmonization framework for indoor air monitoring recently developed by the EC (Joint Research Centre and Directorate-General for Consumer Protection) in the context of the PILOT INDOOR AIR MONIT project;
  • development of a new European guideline providing guidance on proper scope, design, construction, maintenance and inspections of ventilation systems;
  • integration of indoor air quality issues and accounting for the associated environmental, health, social and economic impacts in the potential review of the Ambient Air Directive by the EC, Directorate-General for Environment;
  • development of new EU policies promoting sustainable houses adapting to variations in indoor and outdoor sources and featuring passive/active control for moisture/dampness and avoidance of particles.

Updated 30.04.2013: A Report including the outcome of the workshop is available for download below.

Also available: a reference document by the HealthVent project.

Speakers' presentations will be soon posted on the web sites of EFA and DTU.


Background information:

Images: a) JRC-IHCP laboratory: preparation of tubes for air sampling, Copyright European Union 2010; b) Logo of the HealthVent initiative. Courtesy of HealthVent.


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