Call for ad hoc members to contribute to AQEG report on indoor air quality in the UK

News published: 21/01/2021

         Thank you for your interest, this call is now closed

Background

There is significant current interest in understanding the balance of human exposure to air pollution that occurs between indoors and outside. Outdoor air quality in the UK has improved considerably over the last four decades, but this comprises only a fraction of the overall atmospheric environment that individuals encounter. Modern lifestyles alongside improved building energy efficiency create the potential for a growing fraction of total pollution exposure to occur indoors, in homes, schools, workplaces or public buildings. Whilst historically indoor and outdoor air quality were coupled, this link has become less pronounced over time. The indoor air quality environment does not have similar regulations to outdoors and there are no minimum standards in the UK, with some exceptions, such as those protections that are in place for the occupational health of workers.

Air quality indoors is a genuinely cross-government issue to address since it is connected to not only the classical polluting drivers such as energy, combustion, heating and the use of chemicals, but also links to building design and regulation, and multiple social factors including demographics, income, and behaviour. Several NGOs and charities are also considering the issue of indoor air. The issue of indoor air quality is led by Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care with policy input and support from Defra.

The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health published a set of reports in 2016 and a follow-up in 2018 and 2020 that highlighted the major sources and types of pollution found indoors and the potential range of medical effects.  These and other reports, for example the Chief Medical Officers annual report (2017), have highlighted that PM2.5 and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are potentially the two most significant classes of pollution found in UK homes.

Gaps to consider

AQEG is reviewing the topic of indoor air quality for Defra and have identified the following gaps where contributions to the report from external experts could bring valuable knowledge and additional insight to supplement the current make-up of the panel:

  • Indoor sources of pollution, particularly biological materials including spores and moulds.
  • Human exposure in enclosed environments, including transport and workplace settings.
  • Technical interventions to improve air quality including air filtration, ventilation and product reformulation.

As such we are looking to appoint a number of temporary ad hoc members. We would also expect the ad hoc members to contribute to a chapter on evidence gaps and recommendations.

Joining AQEG as an ad hoc member

At present, the expertise of AQEG members is concentrated on areas relating to core Defra policies such as outdoor pollution sources and chemistry, modelling and inventories. Ad hoc members would complement the current areas of expertise represented on the panel and this should also be seen as a valuable opportunity for working on science policy at a high level with Government.

What is AQEG

The Air Quality Expert Group was formed in 2001 and was converted from a Non Departmental Public Body to an Expert Committee to Defra in 2011.

AQEG has a remit to provide independent, expert advice on the science of air quality across Government and the Devolved Administrations, including the sources, behaviour, levels and mitigation options for key air pollutants.

Time commitment and remuneration

Ad hoc members would join AQEG meetings for up to one year (or completion of the report if earlier) starting in early 2021 and would attend regular AQEG meetings and contribute to discussions relating to the indoor air quality report in addition to researching and writing specific sections between meetings.

The time commitment is usually 1 – 2 days per month (no more than 20 days in a year, including attendance at meetings) remunerated at £172.20 per day in addition to travel expenses (N.B AQEG meetings are currently held via teleconference and this will be reviewed as appropriate).

Application process

To express interest in joining AQEG as an ad hoc member contributing to the report on indoor air quality, please submit a short letter (no more than one page describing relevant experience in relation to the gaps identified above) and a short CV to aq.secretariat@defra.gov.uk by noon on 8 February 2021.

Expressions of interest will be evaluated by a panel including the Chair of AQEG and the Defra secretariat.

For further information on AQEG or this report, please contact aq.secretariat@defra.gov.uk.


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