2013 – a banner year for air quality awareness and Camfil in Europe

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2013 – a banner year for air quality awareness and Camfil in Europe The year 2013 will be notable for both the European Union and Camfil as the “European Year of Air” and the year in which Camfil will celebrate 50 years of operations as the No.1 air filtration company in Europe and a global leader in clean air solutions.

The European Year of Air initiative for 2013 is part of a larger effort to push for stronger EU air quality laws and tighten policies to protect human health and the environment.

Present EU standards for ambient air quality are weaker than those recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), especially for fine particles (PM2.5), one of the pollutants impacting health the most. In Europe, the maximum annual concentration is 25 μg/m3 (2.5 times weaker than WHO’s recommended limit), which most Member States fail to meet today. In the US, the EPA is proposing the more ambitious annual limit of 12 μg/ m3. However, there are even smaller particles, such as those less than 100 nanometres, which may be even more damaging to human health.

These facts were recently highlighted in early January at the European Environmental Bureau Conference in Brussels, "Clean Air Everywhere: Blowing the Winds of Change into European Air Policy", where Janez Potočnik – European Commissioner for Environment – spoke about air quality and meeting the challenge to protect human health and the environment. The Commissioner noted that the EU’s latest analysis shows 420,000 premature deaths from air pollution in the EU in 2010, a figure that is “simply unacceptable”, Potočnik said.

In addition, a recent “Eurobarometer” poll has indicated that air pollution is a key concern for EU citizens, with 72% saying that public authorities are not doing enough to promote good air quality and 87% thinking that respiratory diseases are a serious problem.

The EU has previously had fairly aggressive targets to cut emissions and some have paid off in recent years. According to the EEA’s recent report on air quality (2011), sulphur dioxide emissions have fallen by more than half and carbon monoxide from burning fossil fuels has been reduced by 50% since the decade ending in 2009. However, levels of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter have risen, notably in urban areas, as well as levels of some noxious pollutants.

For example, more than 95% of Europe’s city citizens regularly breathe ozone levels that exceed WHO’s recommended levels. Inhaling ground-level ozone, a naturally occurring and extremely reactive gas, can be harmful to health and the presence of ozone in air may be readily correlated to hospital admission rates relating to respiratory illness and infection.

Welcomed initiative

“Camfil, as a champion of clean air solutions, welcomes the launch of the European Year of Air and all it signifies for improving health and well-being for citizens,” says Alan O’Connell, CEO of the Camfil Group.

“However, it is important to keep in mind that polluted outdoor air penetrates the interior environment through open windows and ventilation systems operating without effective filters, where it mixes with other indoor pollutants. That’s why indoor air can actually be more seriously polluted in homes, commercial buildings and public facilities and involve greater health risks for the young, elderly and chronically ill, especially in urban environments. With people spending up to 90 percent of their lives indoors, we need to think just as much as about IAQ – indoor air quality – as ambient air quality."

Improving IAQ

As the industry leader, Camfil offers a full portfolio of air filtration products to improve IAQ. These range from the most energy-efficient filters for air handling units, to the specially developed line of “City” molecular filters that remove both particulate and gaseous pollutants from indoor air These filters are also the first to be rated for ozone removal.

“Camfil has worked with high-end filters since 1963, and as we enter our 50th year of operation, we will continue this tradition,” says Alan O’Connell. “By offering the market the most energy-efficient clean air solutions – and producing them with the least environmental impact – current and future generations can benefit daily from our most valuable end-product – clean air and everything it means for health, productivity and well-being."

"In addition to conducting R&D at four hubs around the world to develop leading-edge filtration solutions, Camfil is also educating the general public and policymakers about the dangers of indoor and outdoor pollution through initiatives like our European Road Show and sponsorship of the Campaign for Clean Air in London,” says Erik Markman, Vice President Communication for the Camfil Group.

“Camfil salutes the EU’s Year of Clean Air initiative. Both the EU and Camfil have contributed to improving outdoor and indoor air quality but further action will be needed – through policies, stricter compliance, more EU-wide measures to reduce pollution, education and use of the right filtration technology – before EU citizens can breathe cleaner air and enjoy a longer and healthier life.”

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