The Urban Apes climbing and bouldering gym in Hamburg, Germany, is a place where children and adults alike can stay fit and have fun. Going to a gym is supposed to keep you healthy – but the air in gyms can be filled with indoor air pollutants and pose a threat to visitors and employees.
The more intense the exercising, the more air you need to breathe in. And, as some studies show, the more people in the gym area, the more air pollution levels increase. Sources of this poor indoor air quality can be the occupants, dangerous chemicals from cleaning agents and building materials, the HVAC system, and inadequate ventilation and air filtration.
In the case of Urban Apes, many of the climbers use magnesium-carbonate chalk to maintain a good grip while climbing. During peak periods, the total particle concentration measured in their gym therefore spiked to the dust-pollution levels at industrial premises. About half of these particles were the tiny PM1 particles that can get into the lungs and damage health.
What this meant was high concentrations of fine dust in the air – as well as dry mouth and eye irritation from the dry air caused by the properties of the chalk. Urban Apes wanted to improve the gym’s air and protect the occupants’ health, while keeping energy consumption low.