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Home improvements exacerbating indoor air pollution

Efforts to improve energy efficiency in UK homes are giving rise to new problems associated with indoor air pollution, a ventilations system manufacturer has warned today (28 September).

Nuaire – a UK supplier of ventilation systems – has called on government to improve regulations around indoor air quality, which World Health Organisation figures suggest causes 99,000 deaths around Europe each year.

The Drimaster Eco, unveiled at the Churchill War Rooms

The Drimaster Eco, unveiled at the Churchill War Rooms

The company made its comments at the unveiling of its upgraded Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) system Drimaster Eco at the Churchill War Rooms in London. The system ‘dilutes, displaces and replaces’ moisture-thick air in residential homes.

Moisture

Householders are estimated to displace around 600-litres of moisture to the rest of the house by opening the door to an unventilated kitchen or bathroom. The average person sheds around four pints of moisture per day.

Commenting on the problems of indoor air quality, Andy Mudie, Nuaire’s marketing director, explained that around 4.6 million UK homes do not meet Decent Home Standards in 2014 – with private-rented properties among the worst offenders followed by owner occupied dwellings.

A lot of these households are affected by condensation and mould, which grow in natural cold spots such as outer walls. As well as its musty odour, black spots of mould are also a notorious breeding ground for dust mites – exposure to which can cause or aggravate existing conditions of asthma, eczema and perennial allergic rhinitis. Poor indoor air quality has also been linked to severe lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr Mudie continued that a contributing factor is fuel poverty, with residents blocking up trickle vents or drying clothes on radiators.

Renovations

But, he added that poor indoor air quality is “an even bigger problemâ€? in new and renovated properties – where the lack of natural ventilation that stems from loft insulations and double glazing traps moist air in the house.

An increase in renovations to UK homes is giving rise to air quality issues, Nuaire suggest

An increase in renovations to UK homes is giving rise to air quality issues, Nuaire suggest

Mr Mudie estimates that around 52% of UK properties still have single glazed windows, but warned this picture is likely to change. “We have effectively turned houses into Tupperware boxes and over the next few years this problem is only going to grow,â€? he said.

Nuaire’s PIV system, which can be fitted into a household loft, enables residents to dilute moisture in the air preventing it from settling on cold surfaces. Each unit comes with remote controls so that residents can select the speed of air displacement – between 10-litres and 60-litres per second.

Nuaire has called for an inquiry into the impact of indoor air quality to be launched by a parliamentary select committee.

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