Builders Urged to Take Action on Indoor Air Pollution

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Builders Urged to Take Action on Indoor Air Pollution

House builders are just one of the sectors being urged to take immediate action to address the high levels of indoor air pollution in the UK.

A new report from the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the Adaptation and Resilience in the Context of Change network concluded that building regulations should be changed to help alleviate the issue, and steps taken to ensure adequate ventilation is built into new homes.

Their report was published following a workshop event where building and medical professionals came together to identify the key issues and challenges at the heart of the problem, which contributes to approximately 40,000 fatalities in the UK every year.

Their recommendations include revising building regulations and reducing pollutant emissions from construction materials and home improvement products.

Professor Stephen Holgate, Special Advisor on Air Quality to the Royal College of Physicians, said: “There is a growing body of evidence that suggests volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also being produced by synthetic building and furnishing materials. At the same time, insulating homes without adequate ventilation can trap a potentially toxic cloud coming from everyday household products such as air fresheners and cleaning products.

“We need to strike a balance between talking to technologists to develop solutions for those able to improve the situation within their own means and ensuring effort is going into ‘making normal better.’”

The report also calls for nationwide monitoring and pooling of data required for outdoor and indoor air pollution, including encouraging widespread installation of real time sensors to detect indoor pollutants.

Professor Jonathan Grigg, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Air pollution is already considered one of the leading dangers to children’s health, and is known to effect people chronically over their lives. It is therefore imperative that we strengthen the understanding of the relationship between indoor air pollution, exposure and health impacts and to be able to define the economic impact of poor indoor air quality and the health benefits of healthy homes.”

Other recommendations included:

  • Incentivising and stimulating production of indoor air quality enhancing materials with energy efficiency benefits
  • Creating easy-to-understand public health campaigns for greater public awareness
  • Changes in market products, including home insurance and mortgage products.

Dr Peter Bonfield, CEO of BRE, said: “It is important to think carefully about air quality when considering energy efficiency improvements in housing and other buildings, so that the health and wellbeing, especially of those more vulnerable across our society, are properly protected and informed to avoid the potential negative health imparts of poor air quality.”

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