Tackling the Dangers of Air Pollution in the Construction Industry

AZoM speaks to David Moulton, UK Managing Director at Camfil, about the company’s air filtration solutions and how they help to provide a safer working environment for those in the construction industry.

What is the extent of air pollution in the construction industry and what dangers does this pose to workers?

Air pollution is a concern to all people, both within construction and beyond it. To focus on the construction industry, in particular, there has been increased concern regarding the processes that generate airborne contaminants, as they can make air quality worse on construction sites than in other workplaces.

In 2020, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health identified issues that could affect indoor environmental quality (IEQ), including a lack of dust control, the use of high-emission building materials, and limited communication with occupants about hazards related to the work being done. These are some of the biggest dangers currently posed to workers within construction. On building sites, workers can be exposed to dust, gases, organic vapors, microbiological contaminants, and sometimes even mold, depending on the job.

It is very important that construction managers continually inform and educate themselves on the dangers posed to workers on-site while looking for solutions to mitigate the risk and improve the working conditions.

Can you briefly explain what Camfil does and how it became a leading provider in clean air solutions?

Camfil has been in the clean air business for over 55 years. Its motto is that clean air should be a human right. Camfil has always ensured that its products meet and exceed all standards and guidelines to help best protect the health of people. From air filters for HVAC systems to dust extraction systems, air filters for odors, gases and toxins, and even HEPA air purifiers, we ensure that wherever there is a problem with air quality we provide the solution that will perform best to ensure the protection of people, products and the environment. 

Why is air filtration an effective solution for tackling the construction industry’s emissions?

Air filtration is key for all industries. Whether you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint and CO2 emission by reducing energy consumption, your air filter can be optimized to help reach your energy targets. If you are trying to capture airborne pollutants, air filters and clean air solutions are needed for these tasks.

How do your air filters reduce the amount of particles and pollutants in the air?

Air filters are mainly used for indoor settings as indoor air can be up to 50 times more polluted than outdoor air. The air filters capture the airborne contaminants (such as dust, pollen or even viruses) and help stop them from entering your building. Depending on the type of air filter chosen will depend on how effective the filters are.

In the world of air filters, we know that using ePM1 filters is ideal for HVAC and supply air settings and can remove anything from 50-85% of airborne contaminants from entering your building. When we move to HEPA filters, these can capture 99.95% for H13 HEPA filters and 99.995% for H14 HEPA filters. These types of filters are generally specified for cleanroom or controlled environments, but we have witnessed recent trends where they are being specified for air purification systems to help protect workers from the spread of airborne viruses. 

Image Credit: Camfil

Why is it important for construction companies to employ air filtration within their working environment? 

Previously, air filtration in construction was not seen as a necessity, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, we can see that clean air has never been more important. The large number of outbreaks that have occurred on construction sites show that clean air protection measures have brought this to the attention of the wider public. The expectation for clean air on construction sites has grown immensely as a result.

How does air filtration technology play a part in protecting the environment? 

Air filtration technology is key for several factors, from helping to reduce energy consumption (which in turn reduces CO2 emissions) to filtration systems that can capture and remove airborne contaminants that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere. These contaminants include particulate matter, gases, odors, and toxins which need to be treated by air filtration technology.

How effective is Camfil’s air filtration at protecting workers’ health?

Like wearing a mask or gloves, clean air is a part of a wider risk-reducing strategy. Camfil HEPA air purifiers have been proven to remove 99.995% of airborne contaminants in the airstream. This means that when utilizing its systems correctly, you are breathing clean air. Beyond the pandemic, there are other benefits to clean air. For instance, clean air has been shown to help improve health and increase productivity in the workforce.

What is the future in terms of air filtration in the construction industry and beyond?

I think the world has woken up to the importance of clean air in general. We have seen many different types of technologies entering the market over the past year, but the one technology that has been recommended by international and regional guidelines has been air filtration, particularly HEPA filtration. I think workers will become more aware of the air they are breathing and will have added expectations for their employers to help protect them.

Can you reveal any future projects that Camfil has?

As companies get back to work post-COVID, there are many projects that Camfil is assisting its clients with. Internally, one project it is currently working on is the upgrading of its R&D facilities. Camfil believes that clean air is a human right and has always invested in R&D sites to ensure it brings the best technology to the market. The expansion of its R&D facilities in Trosa, Sweden, is a sign of its commitment to helping push towards delivering on that mantra and ensuring that clean air becomes a human right.

About David Moulton

David Moulton is the UK Managing Director of Camfil. David has been working at Camfil for 35 years, leading the company’s UK arm as the business has grown since its inception in Sweden in 1963.


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