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Technology can help improve the quality of indoor air as Joe Bradbury discovers

The importance of quality indoor air quality cannot be overstated. Long-term and short-term exposure to indoor air pollution can result in a variety of health problems, such as cancer, heart disease, dementia, and respiratory illnesses.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 3.8 million people worldwide pass away each year from illnesses linked to contaminated indoor air.

Amazingly, the air inside can sometimes be up to 5 times worse than the air outside. Housing Association Magazine’s Joe Bradbury discusses:

Although we frequently associate air pollution with risks encountered outside, we often forget that it is possible for interior air to be contaminated as well. Indoor air quality and human health can be impacted by smoke, vapours, mould, and chemicals found in some paints, furniture, and cleansers.

Due to people spending the majority of their time indoors, buildings have an impact on general well-being.

More than 1,000 persons in Britain were polled by Ribble Cycles, who discovered that 92% of people's weekly time was spent indoors. In addition, Brits also confessed that they spend 1 hour, 37 minutes less outside per day in the winter than they do in the summer.

An airtight building with effective filtration and ventilation will reduce particle penetration by 78%.

Joe Bradbury Joe Bradbury Digital Editor of Housing Association magazine

Indoor pollutants

Technology advancements are somewhat to blame, as many people find it difficult to tear themselves away from TVs, smart devices, and consoles for extended periods of time.

But thankfully technology is also part of the solution, transforming the great indoors into a healthy environment in which we can thrive.

Researchers in environmental health look into how indoor air quality influences people's health and wellbeing.

According to multiple studies, there are now more air pollutants indoors than in the past, which is caused by things like the chemicals used in household items, poor ventilation, rising temperatures and excess humidity.

Even people themselves pollute the air in the form of CO2, human bio-effluents, and biological aerosols like viruses.

Respiratory issues

On average, 3 people a day die from asthma. There are 5.4 million people (1.1 million children and 4.3 million adults) in Great Britain known to be suffering from the condition… and they are just the ones that came forward for treatment. An untold number battle through their symptoms undiagnosed.

The UK has some of the highest asthma rates in Europe. Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable.

Indoor air quality is essential in the treatment and prevention of Asthma, along with many other respiratory conditions.

IAQ-improving technologies

You may have already come across devices aimed at improving IAQ, but I'll describe how IAQ-improving technologies like air filters and heat recovery ventilation operate in case you haven't:

MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) provides fresh filtered air into a building whilst retaining most of the energy that has already been used in heating the building. Heat Recovery Ventilation is the solution to the ventilation needs of energy efficient buildings.

The terms "comfort ventilation," "heat recovery ventilation," and "mechanical ventilation with heat recovery" (MVHR) all refer to the same thing.

A correctly installed heat recovery ventilation system maintains air quality while being virtually undetectable by continuously supplying the home with fresh, filtered air.

An airtight building with effective filtration and ventilation is proven to reduce particle penetration by 78%.

In summary

Regular maintenance and servicing of all cooking and heating appliances is one strategy to lower indoor pollution.

A national programme called Carbon Monoxide - Be Alarmed was started in 2008 to lessen the amount of CO-related illnesses and fatalities.

According to estimates, 15 million families in the UK do not get their fuel-burning equipment regularly service. The two major goals of the programme are to increase the installation of audible CO alarms in homes and to promote routine maintenance of fuel-burning appliances.

The dangers of indoor air pollution affect everyone. As an industry, we have the power to ensure the safety of the users and occupants of buildings nationwide.

Although we still have a long way to go, Britain is making brave strides towards a sustainable and healthy future, and it is crucial to address the urgent problem of poor indoor air quality throughout.

Joe Bradbury Digital Editor of Housing Association magazine