The Singapore government is “very seriously” considering implementing formaldehyde emissions limits based on recommendations from industry leaders, said Minister for Sustainability and Environment Grace Fu on Wednesday (4 Jan).
Formaldehyde is a colourless chemical that is found in building materials and many household products like paints, varnishes, carpets, and furniture. Although not visible to the naked human eye, high amounts of this chemical can have negative health effects such as sore throat, rhinitis, nasal irritation, and breathlessness.
It occurs naturally in small amounts in the environment but saw increased usage starting in the 1970s. Over periods of long-term exposure, formaldehyde can eventually cause cancer.
Vital health safety provided by potential IAQ guidelines
Now, the Alliance for Action on Sustainable Spaces has launched a set of guidelines and recommendations to ensure that ‘air breathed indoors is cleaner and greener.’ These standards would require that companies submit test results for all goods for certification before sale, as well as having to provide evidence that the products sold comply with emissions standards.
Before the government can accept the alliance’s recommendations, they must first consider multiple criteria, including at which levels emissions should be considered harmful and which parties should be regulated.
“Regulation doesn’t ensure that standards are followed all the time; we need to follow up with inspection and enforcement,” said Ms Fu
“So we have to think through all levers for policymaking before we can arrive at a decision, but this is something we are seriously looking at.
Good IAQ is vital to wellbeing, says expert
J.S. Gan, Co-founder and Managing Director at Building Solutions Ltd, is a leading air quality and green technology specialist in Asia. As an expert in creating healthier and more productive workspaces and a RESET Healthy Buildings Professional, Mr. Gan has directly seen the results of implementing healthy building standards – and the impact they can have on our lives.
“Indoor Air Quality is an integral part of our wellbeing as we spend 90% of our time indoors. The health and productivity effects of IAQ are scientifically proven and documented.”
Now, it is time for indoor air quality to become a regulated standard.
“The government yields tremendous influence in promoting the awareness about the necessity of good IAQ, and to implement appropriate regulation.
These potential guidelines set by the government will play an important role in improving homes, workspaces, and overall wellbeing. Particularly after the pandemic forced employers to reconsider the functionality of the indoor workplace, workplace wellbeing is now one of the top considerations for businesses in Asia. That includes aspects such as ergonomics, lighting, and indoor air quality.
“The regulation should not just be about the emission limit of a product, but also the total level of each air pollutant in the indoor environment,” Mr. Gan continued. “This is especially important for Singapore as the climate is hot and humid all year round, which means air conditioner usage and large volume of recirculated air are very common, and windows are infrequently opened.”
No deadlines for the regulations have been set yet.
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