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Whispering subtlety

In September 2006, Kelvin Bruce, who headed the regional operations of an IAQ-services provider, organised and conducted a conference in Dubai involving the US-based National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA).

| | Apr 11, 2013 | 12:41 am
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B Surendar

B Surendar

In September 2006, Kelvin Bruce, who headed the regional operations of an IAQ-services provider, organised and conducted a conference in Dubai involving the US-based National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). During the conference, one of the presenters put on screen a sequence of extremely disturbing images of mould-afflicted humans.

It was hard to believe the scarred faces on screen, but there they were in shocking, haunting detail. So profound were the images that, almost seven years on, I have a vivid memory of them.

IAQ-gone-wrong does not often manifest itself in such startling detail, though. Generally speaking, most people are not so negligent as to wait till a full-blown on-the-surface case to rush for medical help. It is altogether another matter that most are not cognisant of fungal exposure of the inner kind, and attribute respiratory distress, nausea and headaches to some other ailment; even doctors get mycotoxicosis wrong.

IAQ-related maladies do not visit in a whirlwind fashion, either – the experts speak of how mould and its kin work their dreaded impact inside the body in almost lilting, unparalleled subtlety, hence the need for vigilance among administrators of hospitals, hotels, malls, airports and universities. There is an urgent need for them to fully comprehend the significance and, instead of partially or wholly value-engineering it out, take the initiative to demand top quality from designers, architects, technology service providers and maintenance firms.

For months at a stretch, my team and I have extensively been focusing on air filtration and ducting issues through the pages of Climate Control Middle East, to do what we can to move it from after-thought to must-have status. And now we are priming ourselves up for a focused, dedicated conference on indoor environmental quality, with the fond hope we can escalate the issue and garner mindshare among those that control the purse-strings. While the intent and regulations are headed in the right direction – case-in point the National Strategy and Action Plan for Environmental Health of 2010, in the UAE – the ultimate buy-in has to come from the building owners. Instead of looking for loopholes, which can relegate regulations and enforcement to near-nothingness, the building owners would best serve society by dipping into the conscience. That would be the true sign of a mature industry.

– B Surendar


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