The average person spends up to 90% of their time indoors, so the quality of the air we breathe in our working and living spaces is of great importance. Find out more about ACTIVair

This is even more significant for environments used regularly by vulnerable people, such as learning and healthcare settings. Whilst good ventilation is vital, the use of certain building products can significantly improve air quality as part of a refurbishment.

When faced with the challenge of developing an interior that is as conducive to patient recovery as possible, main contractor, Balfour Beatty, made air quality one of its key considerations.

After turning to British Gypsum for a solution, a system containing the manufacturer’s innovative ACTIVair technology was specified alongside a range of interior lining systems to meet the hospitals acoustic and impact resistance requirements.

ACTIVair technology is designed specifically to decompose formaldehyde emissions into non-harmful inert compounds, thus eliminating the risk of re-emission.

British Gypsum’s Gyptone ceiling range with ACTIVair, was installed in four key areas of the existing hospital building as a retrofit measure. The lead nurse office, corridor areas and memory assessment services office were used to test the success of the products in-situ, providing Balfour Beatty with sufficient data to demonstrate the performance of the technology. Another benefit of this testing phase was that it allowed the client to choose preferred ceiling designs from the comprehensive range. Gyptone Ceiling tiles and plasterboard with ACTIVair technology were then specified throughout the new build hospital building.

The St. Mary’s hospital project tests showed that, following the installation of ACTIVair ceiling and plasterboard products, there was an average reduction of 42% in levels of formaldehyde, a common VOC which is linked to health issues in high concentrations. Measurements taken in rooms without ACTIVair showed significantly higher formaldehyde levels, in comparison to the same rooms with ACTIVair installed. All results were well below the maximum level recommended by the World Health Organisation of 0.08ppm.

Mark Walsh, project manager at Balfour Beatty, said: “We were asked to create a healthy environment at St Mary’s Hospital to improve patient wellbeing, and British Gypsum’s ACTIVair seemed perfect for the job. We were able to offer an innovative solution for Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) to address the issue of indoor air quality and the results speak for themselves – the innovation has reduced the concentration of formaldehyde in the atmosphere, improving the environment for patients and staff at the hospital.

“In addition to the end-user benefits, the ACTIVair technology works through a paint finish, the products are easy to install, and they offer the same fire, acoustic and durability performance as the standard ceiling and plasterboard ranges – important factors that we have to consider when selecting new solutions.”

Neil Austin, project manager at NHFT, said: “NHFT always looks for opportunities to improve the environment for patients, visitors and the staff. The trial of ACTIVair products in existing buildings and use in the new unit further confirms our commitment to look at all aspects of care for our stakeholders.”

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Find out how to improve the indoor air quality of your building, and the benefits it can have for occupiers.