Consumers demand for better indoor air quality
A number of epidemiological studies have shown that ambient fine particulates have an adverse effect on human health. Less attention has been paid to indoor particles and their impact on health, despite the fact that indoor air particle exposure may be even more harmful than exposure to ambient particulate pollution.
The FINE Particles – Technology, Environment and Health - Finnish National Technology Programme has extended knowledge of fine particles in indoor air, and introduced technologies to reduce them.
The results of the studies show that particle concentrations in indoor air, in many cases, can be roughly estimated from the particle concentrations in outdoor air. The efficient filtration of supply air, in particular, reduces the transport of particles from outside significantly.
The most promising air distribution methods for reducing exposure are personal ventilation systems, although these systems have encountered many practical problems in supplying fresh air directly to workstations in office environments.
Another interesting new technology studied in the FINE Programme is detecting mould damage using particle monitors. There is a large market worldwide for these types of services, but the reliability of the methods behind them needs to be scientifically demonstrated.
Good market potential
The demand for solutions to improve indoor air quality is growing due to the increased awareness of consumers. New information on the adverse health effects of fine particles, and measures introduced to reduce exposure to them, will create new market potential for ventilation systems and air filtering.
In Europe, the overall market volume for IAQ-related ventilation products is valued at around EUR 20 billion, of which Finland accounts for some EUR 500 million. The market volume for air filters is in the order of EUR 100-150 million for Europe as a whole.
The technology for supply air filtering and air cleaning developed in Finland is highly advanced, and will give Finnish companies a competitive edge. Measurement instruments represent another market opportunity.
The four-year FINE Programme launched in 2002 by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, was completed in the spring of 2006. The Programme involved over 50 individual projects and close to 60 companies and over 20 research institutions. Work of 11 FINE projects focused on indoor air quality.
Eeva Ahola | alfa
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