With children spending more and more time inside, researchers have suggested that to tackle indoor air pollution a cross-government committee should be created for health, environment and education.
The average person in the UK spends less than two hours a day outside and in the average household, concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are up to seven times higher than the air outside.
Exposure to these VOCs is linked to a decline in lung function and the development of asthma in children.
In a report published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the Royal College of Physicians and academics from the University of York, the researchers have highlighted that improving indoor air quality is not the responsibility of the individual but that the government must work together with industry to make sure indoor air is safe for children.
The researchers suggest that alongside the cross-government committee, the government and local authorities should provide the public with advice and information about the risks of indoor air quality while also suggesting ways that they can prevent it.
The researchers have also said that local authorities should have the power to require improvements when air quality fails to meet the minimum standards in schools and other buildings where children live.
Prof Nicola Carslaw, from the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York, said: ‘Although people are generally very aware of air pollutants outdoors and exposure to them – such as walking along a heavily trafficked street – they are much less aware that they can be exposed to pollutants in their homes.’
Prof Jonathan Grigg, a paediatric respiratory consultant from the RCPCH said: ‘We’re finally paying attention to the quality of our outdoor air and this is long overdue.
‘Children in the UK spend most of their time indoors, with just 68 minutes spent outside on an average day.
‘Too many of our homes and schools are damp and poorly ventilated and this is adversely affecting the health of our children.’
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