Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour, Sen. Arni Walters

A Government official has added his voice to the growing number of complaints about poor indoor air quality.

The concern has come from the Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour, Senator Arni Walters, who was speaking during the opening ceremony of an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) seminar at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today. During his presentation, he revealed that the Labour Department had recorded 26 air quality complaints in 2006, nine in 2007, and 25 in 2008.

While he acknowledged that these numbers were relatively small, Senator Walters stressed that one complaint against poor air quality was one too many.

He blamed the increase on the trend of constructing “tightly sealed buildings” which moved away from natural ventilation and employed mechanical cooling systems.

“On the one hand, while this may serve to prevent the loss of energy, it reduces the entry of outdoor air but may reduce the dilution of indoor contaminants. The problem has been exacerbated by human practices such as poor hygiene and housekeeping practices causing an increase in the number of contaminants being generated and circulated indoors,” the Minister pointed out.

He added that a lack of proper maintenance and cleaning regimes for air conditioning systems could lead to the build-up and circulation of contaminants and could create conditions which promoted mould growth. This in turn, he said, could lead to cases of persistent ill health among employees.

“Persons including workers and visitors to workplaces have reported respiratory infections and aggravated symptoms associated with allergies, asthma and respiratory tract infections, which usually subside upon leaving the work environment,” he explained.

The half-day seminar, entitled “Your Work and You – What Every Decision Maker should know about Indoor Air Quality”, provided decision-makers with fundamental knowledge of the factors that impact on indoor air quality.

There were presentations by the Labour Department, the Environmental Protection Department, as well as industry leaders in ventilation systems design and indoor air quality surveillance.

The seminar was coordinated by the Labour Department and the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH).

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