The Royal College of Physicians recently published the report ‘Every breath we take: The lifelong impact of air pollution’. The report highlights the often overlooked section of our environment – that of indoor space – and sets out factors which can cause can cause poor air quality in our homes and the effects of these pollutants. The report offers a number of major reform proposals setting out what must be done if we are to tackle the problem of air pollution.
Indoor air pollutants contribute to asthma as well as other respiratory conditions and diseases. Indoor pollutants include VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from offgassing building materials, paints and finishes, and furnishings; other toxic chemicals emitted from cleaning products and mould which grows on moist materials and surfaces.
At the West Wittering Beach House, we are addressing exposure to indoor air pollutants starting with the construction materials (source control) and ventilation.
We are using Coillte’s Zero-added formaldehyde Oriented Strand Board (Smartply OSB3) throughout the property. On the first floor we will use this material as a healthy design feature by cladding walls, floors and ceilings in these boards. OSB is an engineered wood-based panel consisting of wood strands bonded together. The strands are bonded in layers in different directions. The key to reducing air pollutants is to use a board such as this with a healthy binder.Ceramic floor and wall tiles will also be used extensively. Tiles are dense, hygienic and easy to clean and meaning that allergy causing microbes and mites won’t get a look in.
There will be enhanced automatic ventilation of the internal air within the building. The problem of internal air quality increases as homes become ever more air tight to meet the Government’s carbon emission targets. One of the key solutions is to ventilate (allow air in) from the warm areas like bedrooms and living rooms and out through the wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Air quality is improved by increasing the amount of outdoor air coming into the house, diluting concentrations of indoor pollutants, and pushing stale and damp indoor air out of the home.
This new report from RCP backs up the findings of other recent research, including the BEAMA survey “My Health My Home” which revealed that over one third of UK homes are at an elevated or severe risk of having polluted indoor air.
More to follow as we select the appropriate materials and ventilation technologies.