Air Quality at Hospitals
Consideration of air quality at hospitals is often needed in order to obtain planning consent. This is to ensure that future occupants are not exposed to elevated pollutant concentrations that are typical of the built-up urban areas where hospitals are commonly situated. The recent events of COVID-19 in the UK have left many infirmaries unable to cope with the increased number of patients and are therefore in need of rapid improvement and expansion.
Redmore Environmental Ltd was commissioned to undertake an Air Quality Assessment in support of a planning application for a proposed extension to the existing Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at Manchester Royal Infirmary. The proposals comprised the construction of a four-storey extension to provide additions to the A&E department, office space, six theatres and a recovery ward in order to cope with the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
The development was partly located within an Air Quality Management Area declared by Greater Manchester Combined Authority due to high pollution levels. The proposals therefore had the potential to expose future occupants to elevated pollutant concentrations, as well as lead to air quality impacts in this sensitive area as a result of fugitive dust emissions during construction and road vehicle exhaust emissions during operation.
Methodology and Findings
There is the potential for dust released from numerous construction site activities to cause health effects to nearby building occupants, as well as nuisance due to deposition on property, cars, and other surfaces. Impacts were therefore assessed using the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) ‘Guidance on the Assessment of Dust from Demolition and Construction’. A number of control strategies were identified to cut down emissions from the site and the analysis concluded that residual effects would not be significant.
Vehicles travelling to and from the site have the potential to cause air quality impacts at nearby sensitive locations. Using the screening criteria contained within IAQM document ‘Land-Use Planning & Development Control: Planning for Air Quality‘, air quality effects were defined as negligible as no changes to existing servicing or parking arrangements were proposed at the scheme. This provided a cost effective solution for the client and limited the amount of detailed assessment required for the project.
Poor air quality at hospitals, which can be caused by exhaust emissions from nearby roads, may lead to the exposure of future occupants to concentrations above the recommended air quality guidelines. In the case of this scheme, dispersion modelling using ADMS-Roads was undertaken in order to assess pollution levels across the site. Results indicated that pollutant concentrations were below the relevant national standards. As such, air quality effects were not considered a constraint to planning consent for the scheme.
How Can We Help Assess Air Quality at Hospitals?
If you are concerned about air quality at hospitals or have a project that requires an Air Quality Assessment in support of planning, then get in touch today to discuss how we can help you ensure permission is granted.