The report, ‘The inside story: Health effects of indoor air quality on children and young people’, published January 28 2020, explains that there is growing evidence that respiratory problems among children may be exacerbated by indoor air pollution in homes, schools and nurseries.
This comprehensive landmark report, involving a systematic review of 221 studies, shows evidence linking indoor air pollution to a number of childhood health problems, including: asthma, wheezing, conjunctivitis, dermatitis, and eczema.
Within the report sources of indoor air pollution are cited as including smoking, damp, the burning of fossil fuels and wood, dust, chemicals from building materials, furnishings, aerosol sprays, and cleaning products. The document also warns that IAQ tends to be worse in low quality housing where properties are poorly ventilated.
Report recommendations include that local authorities should have the power to require improvements in local authority schools and houses where air quality fails to meet minimum standards. To do this it advises revising the Building Regulations by: setting robust legally binding performance standards for IAQ including ventilation rates, maximum concentration levels for specific pollutants, labelling materials and testing appliances; introducing air quality tests when local authority construction is complete and before building sign-off; checking compliance tests after the construction stages and assessment of buildings once occupied and in use.
Jenny Smith, head of marketing at Vent-Axia, explained: “At Vent-Axia we are committed to improving indoor air quality and so public health. With Public Health England attributing between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year from long-term exposure to air pollution, it is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK.
“Until now outdoor air pollution has been at the forefront of air pollution debates but this report confirms the vital importance of IAQ to health. It therefore advises an urgent step change with a number of recommendations designed to radically help improve the indoor air we breathe.”
Another key recommendation from the report is that local authorities should follow the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance ‘Indoor Air Quality at Home’. The document provided detailed information and advice on how to reduce exposure to indoor pollutants and so help protect health. The publication of this guidance set in stone the importance of good IAQ, highlighting the significant part effective ventilation plays in helping combat indoor air pollution in the home.
Confirming the significance of IAQ’s impact on health the Royal Colleges’ report calls for a cross-governmental committee to co-ordinate working in health, environment, education and homes for indoor air quality and recommends developing a national strategy and policy for IAQ. The strategy should designate a Government Cabinet lead on the issue of IAQ and there should be steps to raise public awareness and understanding. There is also a recommendation for the inclusion of IAQ within Air Quality plans mandated by Government.
Other recommendations from the Royal Colleges’ report include calls for local authorities to offer free indoor air testing for residents, as well as a national fund to support improvements for low income families. Meanwhile, to evaluate IAQ risks in homes and schools the report recommends improved resources for Environmental Health Officers.
The report also advises on an update of existing instruments, such as the Housing Health and Safety Rating Systems to include more evidence on a wider range on indoor air pollutants. There are also calls for a ‘clean house’ check-up system similar to current Energy Performance Certificates and regulation of air-cleaning devices.
For areas where air quality is particularly poor the Vent-Axia Pure Air duct filtration has been designed to go further to improve IAQ. Working with an MVHR system, it is fitted to the intake airflow and incorporates two types of filtration – enhanced activated carbon filtration to remove harmful gases such as Nitrogen Dixoide and ISO ePM10/ePM2.5 particulate filters to achieve even higher levels of filtration.