Last edited 19 Jan 2021

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BRE Group Researcher Website

Health effects of indoor air quality on children and young people

Health effects of indoor air quality on children and young people.png

The growing evidence that respiratory problems in children can be made worse by indoor air pollution in homes, schools and nurseries, has highlighted a pressing need to improve indoor air quality (IAQ).

This is according to a report (Jan 2020) from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Physicians, based on an extensive review of indoor pollution research, evidence from a wide range of practitioners and experts, and conversations with children, young people and families. It presents evidence linking indoor air pollution to childhood health problems such as asthma, wheezing, conjunctivitis, dermatitis and eczema.

Wide-ranging contributory factors detailed in the report include the materials used to construct and decorate buildings, which can be long term sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde, and the design and refurbishment of buildings to be more airtight. Airtight construction can improve energy efficiency but should incorporate sufficient ventilation to prevent the build-up of pollutants.

A group of experts reviewed the evidence and formulated recommendations for action by government and local authorities, and guidance for families.

Dr Andy Dengel, Director, BRE Environment said: “I was very happy for the BRE IAQ team to participate (with support from the BRE Trust) in this crucial and timely report, which benefitted from the contributions of a wide range of stakeholders. The importance of good indoor air quality for health and wellbeing is now increasingly being recognised, and in children and young people the effects of poor IAQ can be more marked due to respiratory and other bodily systems still being in development. Now, as called for in the report, it is time for urgent action by many parties.”

Those parties include people designing, constructing, maintaining and repairing buildings, who the report says (among many recommendations) should be helped to avoid the use of harmful chemicals and pollutants with the support of clear labelling and a national system for control. Professional bodies for design and construction should provide or accredit training about indoor air quality, providing high standards for ventilation, energy efficiency, and reduction in exposure to allergens and pollutants.

The full report is freely available from the RCPCH website.

--BRE Group

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