Poor Indoor Air Quality Could Cause Increase In Number of Asthmatics

According to “The Future of Indoor Air Quality in UK Homes and its Impact on Health”*, failure to tighten existing air quality regulations could lead to an 80% increase in the number of asthmatics.

Highlighting the insufficiency of current building regulations in combatting the effect of indoor air pollution on health, the report predicts that without intervention, the UK could see an 80% increase in asthma sufferers within the next 35 years.

Professor Hazim Awbi, an indoor air specialist from Reading University’s School of the Built Environment, also warned that the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) could exceed the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended limits for a 24-hour period by as much as 60%.

With the government legally committed to an 80% reduction in carbon by 2050, it is essential that homes become more energy efficient to meet this target. This also means homes must become more airtight.

There are however, adverse effects regarding improved air tightness that building regulations have failed to consider. Speaking on the matter, Professor Awbi offered his thoughts:

‘‘To avoid a serious and significant increase in asthma cases and other health conditions related to poor indoor air quality, homes must be adequately ventilated. In addition to the need for mechanical ventilation systems, I would also advise that a minimum air exchange rate that new homes must meet is enforced and there is tighter regulation to ensure systems are properly installed, effectively operated and adequately maintained.’’

Speaking further on the issue of poor indoor air quality, Communities and local government shadow minister Liz McInnes, commented:

“The issue of poor indoor air quality on health and particularly its impact on sufferers of asthma is sometimes overlooked by policy makers and health professionals. GPs play a crucial role in providing information and guidance to patients, but increasingly important is the role of local councils that are now responsible for public health.

The conclusions of Professor Awbi’s report need to be fully considered and government, health professionals, local councils and social housing associations need to work together on finding solutions.”

According to Vent-Axia marketing manager, Jenny Smith, it is important that Part F of the building regulations aligns with energy-efficiency regulations to ensure good indoor air quality:

“With many people spending the majority of their time indoors, improvements in indoor air quality must be seen as a priority.”

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