The number of Ghanaians working in enclosed “Air-conditioned” spaces continues to increase. It is estimated that many urban dwellers spend close to 80% of their time indoors. Many workers in the Banking Industry, Airports, Hospitality Industry and patients in Hospitals are no exception. Poorly designed Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems can lead to the incidence and spread of diseases and invariably reduce the quality of life of those exposed.
The Mechanical Technical Division of the Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE) has therefore commenced a series of dialogues aimed at educating HVAC practitioners and other Built Environment Professionals, Decision makers and the general public about the health impact of poor indoor air quality.
The first of the dialogues was held at 5pm on 30th January 2020 at the Engineers Center under the following three broad areas;
- What is Indoor Air Quality?
- How safe is your indoor air?
- Engineering Indoor Air?
The main presenter for the evening was Ing. Dr. Kwame Owusu Achaw. His submission detailed some the known potential health effects of poor indoor air such as cancer, nausea, headaches etc. He also listed a number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that affect the quality of air such as radon, benzene, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, xylene etc. The presence or otherwise of any of the above depends on the specific area activities, fittings etc.
It was generally agreed during the question and answer session that Architects needed to collaborate more closely with Mechnical and Electrical Building Services Engineers to ensure the incorporation of their technical considerations before presenting drawings to clients. If building services become an afterthought, then the design, installation and maintenance of any mechanical indoor air management system is compromised.
Atlantic Climate Control, sponsors of the 1st Indoor Air Quality Dialogues, presented some solutions for maintaining acceptable Indoor Air Quality. Atlantic Climate Control’s Engineers were also on hand to share their experiences with participants. Other participants also shared their thoughts on the subject.
For demo purposes, Atlantic Climate Control brought an instrument to measure the carbon dioxide concentration in the room before and after the presentation and shared the results with participants. The results showed that the CO2 concentration increased appreciably with the number of occupants and in the duration of occupancy. This was a major eye opener to many participants and generated a lot of discussions.
It was generally accepted by participants that the quality of indoor air in public places of assembly such as the National Theater and the International Conference Centre has been severely compromised due to the deterioration of their central air-conditioning systems. The broken down plants have been replaced with split air cooling systems that do not introduce fresh air into the space.
The program was attended by 56 persons and the general interest shown, suggests that we need to have another dialogue this year. The Mechanical Technical Division will take up the challenge for another dialogue in 2020. The President (Ing. Alex Aryeh) of the Ghana Institution of Engineering who was present at the evening lecture encouraged all Engineering Practitioners to remain professional in all their jobs and ensure that they strictly pursue jobs only in their area of expertise as required by our code of ethics.
Ing. Michael Dedey, FGhIE
Chairman, Mechanical Technical Division – GhIE