Vent-Axia welcomes NICE indoor air quality guidance

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Vent-Axia has welcomed the draft guidance Indoor Air Quality at Home, recently published by National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The consultation document, which was published on Friday 28 June 2019, 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.

Vent-Axia has welcomed the fact 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. According to Vent-Axia, currently 65% 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 life years, with 45% lost to cardiovascular diseases, 23% to asthma and allergy and 15% to lung cancer.

Importance of ventilation

The guidance outlines 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. 

“At Vent-Axia, we are committed to improving indoor air quality. With homes becoming increasingly airtight,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,” explains Jenny Smith, head of marketing at Vent-Axia. “Recent research points to chemical products that contain compounds refined from petroleum, such as household cleaning products, now rivalling vehicle emissions as the top source of urban air pollution.”

Reducing damp

Another key recommendation within the document is advising people how to reduce damp and condensation in the home. Condensation and mould is not a new problem, but improved insulation and airtightness of existing properties without considering ventilation is causing a rise in new cases. The NICE guidance recommends using background ventilation, and mechanical ventilation where possible, as well as 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. Key housing conditions that put people at increased risk of exposure to poor indoor air include living near high levels of outdoor air pollution, living in small cramped overcrowded rooms with inadequate ventilation, and homes with damp and mould.

Whole-house approach

Meanwhile, for architects and builders, the NICE guidance recommends adopting a whole-house approach to heating and ventilation to ensure IAQ is maintained to minimise household exposure to particulate matter, while achieving standards for energy use. For local authorities, the NICE guidance advises embedding a plan for improving IAQ into an existing strategy. It also emphasises the need for a balanced approach to ventilation, insulation and heating to achieve good IAQ.

NICE’s draft guidance follows on from the Clean Air Strategy which was published in January and set out the government’s aims to tackle all sources of air pollution, to make our air healthier to breathe. IAQ is a key part of this, with the strategy proposing a number of simple measures to reduce air pollutants in the home, including regular ventilation. 

To help protect health in the home, Vent-Axia has been working to provide ventilation solutions to improve IAQ for households. With IAQ now a high priority, the Vent-Axia PureAir Sense has been designed to help offer peace of mind to households. Equipped with an odour sensor that increases airflow when the air is poor, the PureAir Sense helps ensure a comfortable living environment.

The draft guidance consultation for Indoor Air Quality at Home will run from 28 June 2019 - 9 August 2019. It is expected the guidance will be published on 11 December 2019.