A draft guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – Indoor Air Quality at Home – has received praise from the industry.
The consultation document, which was published on June 28, urges both local authorities and the public to be aware of the air quality in their homes to reduce exposure to indoor pollutants and so help protect their health.
Within the guidance it advises people to ensure rooms are well ventilated by extractor fans or by opening windows when cooking, drying clothes inside, using household sprays or solvents and paints.
With exterior air pollution already high on the UK’s agenda Vent-Axia is pleased that the dangers associated with poor indoor air quality (IAQ) are now being recognised, especially since recent research on respiratory health has pointed to non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) in the home posing a risk to health. Currently, a staggering 65 per cent of UK homes suffer from poor IAQ as a result of inadequate ventilation.
Exposure to indoor air pollution from cookers, damp, cleaning products and fires can all irritate the lungs and exacerbate asthma symptoms, as well as causing long-term adverse health effects.
Poor indoor air quality costs the UK over 204,000 healthy lives a years, with 45 per cent lost to cardiovascular diseases, 23 per cent to asthma and allergy and 15 per cent to lung cancer.
Within the draft guidance the document confirms the critical role ventilation plays in removing potential pollutants and improving indoor air quality. NICE’s guidance therefore advises households on how to increase ventilation by using extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens or opening windows when: using cookers, open solid fires, candles, free-standing gas heaters, cleaning products, household sprays or aerosols and paints; having a bath or shower; and air-drying clothes in the home.
Jenny Smith, head of marketing at British ventilation manufacturer Vent-Axia, explains: “At Vent-Axia we are committed to improving indoor air quality. With homes becoming increasingly air tight the problem of poor IAQ has become less easy to ignore. Without good ventilation in a home air quality can potentially deteriorate and as a result can lead to condensation, mould and build-up of toxic chemicals. Recent research points to chemical products that contain compounds refined from petroleum, such as household cleaning products, now rivaling vehicle emissions as the top source of urban air pollution.”
Another key recommendation within the document is advising people how to reduce damp and condensation in the home. Condensation and mould are not a new problems, but improved insulation and air tightness of existing properties without considering ventilation is causing a rise in new cases.
Within the guidance NICE recommends using background ventilation, using mechanical ventilation where possible; avoiding moisture producing activities such as drying clothes inside and repairing sources of water damage.
NICE also highlights that pre-schoolers, pregnant women, the disabled and elderly may be especially vulnerable to the effects of pollution and poor ventilation.
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