EnviroVent has welcomed the recent report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the Royal College of Physicians which demonstrates that respiratory problems among children may be exacerbated by indoor air pollution in homes, schools and nurseries.
The report, based on a RCPCH commissioned systematic review of 221 studies, presents evidence linking indoor air pollution to a range of childhood health problems including asthma, wheezing, conjunctivitis, dermatitis, and eczema. Sources of indoor air pollution include smoking, damp, the burning of fossil fuels and wood, dust, chemicals from building materials and furnishings, aerosol sprays, and cleaning products.
The authors warn that indoor air quality tends to be poorer in low quality housing where ventilation may be inadequate or insufficient.
Rebecca McLean, Marketing and Product Director at EnviroVent, said: “We acknowledge the findings of this report and what this means in terms of how poor indoor air quality affects young people. We have seen many times how an effective ventilation system can transform the air quality in a home and can have significant health benefits for its occupants. Now this learning needs to be taken forward, so social housing providers, homeowners, schools and nurseries are more aware and can take effective action.”
The report recommends that local authorities should have the power to require improvements where air quality fails to meet minimum standards in local authority schools and houses. This should be extended, according to the authors, beyond damp and mould (where powers already exist) to include other pollutants.
The report recommends:
The report recommends that local authorities should follow the NICE guidelines for ‘Indoor air quality at home’. It warns “exposure to indoor air pollution from cookers, damp, cleaning products and fires can irritate the lungs and exacerbate asthma symptoms.” It encourages people to ensure rooms are well ventilated, especially when cooking, drying clothes inside, or using sprays, solvents, and paints.
Professor Jonathan Grigg, Paediatric Respiratory Consultant from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said: “We’re finally paying attention to the quality of our outdoor air and this is long overdue. It’s harder to get population level data on the quality of indoor air but the evidence in this report paints a worrying picture. Children in the UK spend most of their time indoors, with just 68 minutes spent outside on an average day. Too many of our homes and schools are damp and poorly ventilated – this is adversely affecting the health of children.”
The report says local authorities should provide free indoor air testing for residents. It recommends a national fund to support improvements for low income residents who report issues with ventilation and air quality.
Professor Stephen Holgate, Special Advisor for the Royal College of Physicians, said: “Poorer households have fewer choices about where to live and where to go to school. More than three million families live in poor quality housing in the UK. Most will not have enough money to make improvements and have no option but to make do with damp, under-ventilated environments. We need to offer support at local authority level – likewise with schools. If we ask our children to spend their childhood days in unhealthy spaces, then we’re storing up problems for future health.”
The report ‘The Inside Story: Health effects of indoor air quality on children and young people’ makes further recommendations:
The Inside Story: Health effects of indoor air quality on children and young people is jointly published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). It is funded by Allergy UK, Airtopia, Asthma UK, BEAMA, British Heart Foundation, British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Dyson, and the Greater London Authority.
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