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From Research to Policy: A Recap of the Inaugural EDIAQI Webinar

Mario Lovric's presentation at the inaugural EDIAQI project webinar

Air pollution persists as the foremost environmental health hazard confronting Europeans, with nearly 10% of premature deaths within the EU27 traceable to environmental pollution — a fact that should not be dismissed lightly.

Against the backdrop that Europeans spend around 90% of their time indoors, where levels of pollutants frequently surpass those outside, it becomes imperative to adopt strategies that guarantee healthy indoor air for Europe and beyond.

The inaugural webinar of the EDIAQI project, aptly titled “Indoor Air Quality: Always a Bridesmaid, never a Bride,” prompted a critical discussion on why indoor air quality has often been overshadowed in policy-making circles and the importance of integrating this issue into the policy-making framework.

Rita Araujo, a Policy Officer at the European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, illuminated the dangers of poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and the existing EU policy environment. She pointed out that the issue of IAQ has historically been considered a national competency within the EU. However, Rita also stressed that initiatives like the IDEAL cluster projects, under the Horizon Europe Framework, and additional European Research, are laying the groundwork to steer policy dialogues at both national and EU levels.

Xavier Basagaña, representing the InChildHealth project, the current coordinators of the IDEAL Cluster, delivered an in-depth exposition on how the IDEAL cluster projects are working towards unified objectives, such as establishing research benchmarks and contributing crucial insights to the Zero Pollution Action Plan (ZPAP). Xavier also touched on the recognised health ramifications of inadequate IAQ and underscored the considerable gaps in our understanding of IAQ’s impacts on health.

Mario Lovric, the EDIAQI project's Scientific Coordinator, adeptly situated the EDIAQI project within this milieu and delineated the ambitious objectives, underscoring the necessity for continued investigation into IAQ. He further explained the complexity of implementing legislation on IAQ, given the diversity of indoor settings, pollutants, and sources of contamination. He emphasised that legislation might be feasible for public domains like schools and public transportation, but private domains, such as residences, present a different set of challenges.

The webinar was lively, sparking numerous questions from participants. Queries ranged from advancements in IAQ within the ZPAP to balancing data privacy against the need for evidence gathering, the use of sensors in the IDEAL cluster projects to track microbiological factors, the economic impacts of poor IAQ, and the connection between IAQ and overall indoor environmental quality. While the panellists could not exhaustively address all inquiries, given the breadth of unknowns, the questions have spurred significant reflection to propel this crucial dialogue forward.

Thus, this in augural webinar, marks the beginning and not the end of this critical discussion on IAQ, with the EDIAQI project committed to continuing this vital discourse and exploring more technical aspects in our upcoming webinars. Keep an eye on the project’s website and social media for forthcoming announcements, and delve deeper into the discussion by viewing the webinar.