Indoor air quality is of significant importance to the health of occupants of a building, be it a home or a place of work. There are multiple potential reasons why the air in a building can become unhealthy and many possible sources of pollution, some of which can be relatively easy to remove while others are not. In fact, indoor air is often more polluted and much more damaging to our health than outdoor air.
This problem was highlighted by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in their report published in 2020. In it, RCPCH & RCP highlighted the impact that poor indoor air had on the respiratory health of children of all ages including asthma, infection, rhinitis and even low birth weight and difficulty sleeping.
The report indicates that increased and better use of ventilation is key to preventing harm to children’s health but not at the cost of household warmth.
Importantly this call for attention to indoor air pollution was met by the UK government health advisory body the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. An extensive review of the field led to the publication of the new NHS guidelines intended for a range of professionals and audiences:
• Building control, housing and maintenance staff
• Healthcare professionals
• Public health professionals
• Planners and regulators involved with residential developments
• Architects, designers and builders
• Private property managers and private landlords
• Housing associations
• Voluntary sector
• Members of the public
These guidelines now guide a GP for example on what best practice might be if they have a patient asking them for help with damp in their home.
These guidelines are an important improvement for the UK as prior to 2020 clinicians really had little help on what might the best way to advise and help patients. Even though they may believe that a patients’ home is damp they would not have known where to get help with improving the home, might not have known what the expected symptoms might be or how serious the impact on health could be. These guidelines provide NHS approved guidance on all these subjects and many more including advice for both homeowners and rental properties.
If your GP or any other health professional is struggling with how to help you, direct them towards this document.
Other sources of information on damp homes