According to a new YouGov consumer survey, conducted on behalf of BEAMA, over half of respondents had experienced mould or condensation in their homes. Added to this, a new independent study by Prism & Waverton Analytics, backs up this research showing that a large number of homes are experiencing, or are at risk of aggravated health problems due to poor indoor air quality.
The data in both studies makes sobering reading with the YouGov survey stating 58 per cent of respondents have suffered from mould or condensation in their homes and 19 per cent of those have already suffered from respiratory or dermatological condition with the remaining 81 per cent being considered at risk. Meanwhile, the home study by Prism & Waverton Analytics confirms the health risks of poor indoor air quality in no uncertain terms. According to the research, a staggering 91 per cent of homes tested for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the air were above the recommended level. As the total VOC level increases into the moderate, elevated or severe levels, aggravated health problems become a more likely issue and so the need to address VOC levels becomes more critical.
According to BEAMA, only 2 per cent of UK homes have mechanical ventilation systems installed throughout their homes, placing many households at risk of elevated VOCs. Evidence shows that if care is not taken to ensure adequate levels of ventilation, in line with Part F of the Building Regulations, then high levels of humidity can lead to a growth in dust mite populations, condensation and mould resulting in health and comfort issues. BEAMA’s recommended approach to a balanced refurbishment involving internal or external insulation improvements is to specify continuous ventilation at low cost and low risk.
‘At Vent-Axia we welcome this new research which confirms there is no doubt that indoor air quality has an impact on health, with mould and condensation being key factors of poor indoor air quality and health risk,’ says Lee Nurse, Marketing Director at Vent-Axia. ‘With many people spending the majority of their time indoors, improvements in indoor air quality must be seen as a priority. Continuous ventilation is a simple solution to air quality problems.’
Designed to work with the natural air infiltration, continuous ventilation systems control the air path through the home. As a result, they prevent the migration of damaging humidity and pollutants, providing near silent energy efficient ventilation. There are a number of options available, both for new builds and for retrofitting and the latest continuous ventilation systems also offer heat recovery.
For new build homes there are continuous whole house Mechanical Extract Ventilation (MEV) and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) solutions, such as Vent-Axia’s Sentinel Kinetic MVHR system which boasts an impressive 94 per cent thermal efficiency. For refurbishments, there are continuous Decentralised Mechanical Extract Ventilation (dMEV) systems, such as Vent-Axia’s Lo-Carbon Response. In addition, there are also dMEV single room heat recovery units available, such as Vent-Axia’s Lo-Carbon Tempra, which can be simply retrofitted through a 100mm diameter hole in the wall allowing standard wet room extract fans to be easily replaced.
As the Government continues to drive energy efficiency in homes, these ventilation solutions will become even more important with properties set to become more air tight through insulation and double glazing. If ventilation is not considered in these air tight homes it will only go to increase the risk of households experiencing aggravated health problems due to poor indoor air quality.
Currently there is guidance on the total VOC limit for indoor air in the Building Regulations Part F ‘Means of Ventilation’ within Appendix A which specifies a limit of 300 ng/L over 8 hours (post-construction, but pre-occupancy). Similar guidance is given in the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). However, this new research suggests that there is now a need to provide the building industry with further standard guidelines for ventilation system installation.
For up-to-date ventilation guidance and an overview of the research visit www.vent-axia.com/healthyhomes