July 18, 2019

U.K. Organization Issues Draft Guideline on IAQ at Home

A draft guideline recently published by the U.K.-based National Institute for Health and Care Excellence covers indoor air quality in residential buildings and provides guidance on reducing indoor air pollution. NICE, an independent organization that provides national evidence-based guidance on health and social care, describes strategies for controlling indoor pollution sources, ensuring good ventilation, and achieving effective property maintenance. The draft guideline is written for environmental health practitioners, healthcare professionals, public health professionals, housing and maintenance staff, and others. NICE’s draft guideline is intended to cover the whole population, but the organization gives special consideration to those who may be particularly vulnerable to adverse health effects associated with poor IAQ. This group includes people with a pre-existing health condition such as asthma, allergies, and cardiovascular disease; pregnant women; older people; and people who live in poor-quality housing.

NICE’s draft guideline stresses that certain housing conditions can put people at increased risk of exposure to poor IAQ. For example, location can affect residents’ exposure to poor indoor air if they live in an area with high levels of outdoor air pollution or if they choose not to open windows due to noise or security risks. Factors related to physical infrastructure, including small room size and inadequate ventilation, can increase individuals’ risk of exposure. People living in housing affected by physical disrepair such as flood damage are also at increased risk of being exposed to poor indoor air.

The draft guideline outlines potential sources of indoor air pollutants, including building materials, furniture and furnishing, consumer products, activities such as cooking and smoking, and biological sources like mold and pet dander.

“Usually the most effective way to deal with indoor pollutants is to either remove the source or reduce emissions from it,” the draft guideline reads. “If these are not possible, the pollutant can be diluted by ventilation (for example, opening windows) to reduce exposure.”

NICE stresses that outdoor pollutants can also enter homes through windows or gaps and are a “significant contributor to indoor air quality.”

The full draft guideline is available as a PDF on NICE’s website. More information on the organization’s activities related to IAQ at home is also available.