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IAQ residential study warns of overlooked household pollutants

Study based on data from air quality sensors in a handful of homes warns of need to improve education on ventilation use over concerns at spikes in indoor level of PM2.5 particles

New research from several UK households into Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has warned of the potential dangers of inadequate ventilation in properties after everyday tasks such as cleaning or cooking.

Zehnder UK has presented initial findings from ongoing research into the impact of introducing a range of common pollutants into residential properties. This has been undertaken by placing commercially available air monitoring technology in a number of different rooms.

Awair sensors were introduced to five homes and recorded what the research describes as “significant spikes” in levels of PM2.5 particles in the form of fine dust that are linked to conditions such as asthma, allergies and mental health issues.

Rupert Kazlauciunas, technical product manager with Zehnder UK, said that IAQ was being dangerously overlooked at a time when concerns and awareness about outdoor air pollution were being raised politically and in media.

He said, “We spend as much as 90 per cent of our time indoors – yet mention air quality and our thoughts immediately turn to large lorries pumping fumes, cars clogging our roads or factories belching out smoke.”

“The chemicals and particles we breathe in our homes and workplaces actually pose a far more dangerous threat to our health than most people realise. Smoking, perhaps, is not a huge surprise, but cooking, using cosmetics and even just having pets or vacuuming our carpets can raise dust particles to harmful levels.”

Mr Kazlauciunas argued that efforts to improve end user awareness of the importance of IAQ, while also providing more innovative ventilation solutions, would be vital to tackle the negative health impacts of indoor pollutants.

The manufacturer said its findings had found that in the case of kitchen activity alone, cooking omelettes, stir fry or grilled foods raised pollution levels to three times the average levels of air pollution from a typical London road, based on official statistics.

Zehnder UK added, “Using hairspray when getting ready in the morning for example also caused a huge spike in harmful dust particles.”

One participant in the study found through air monitoring that there was a large spike in both chemical and PM2.5 levels early in the morning after use of hairspray in a room. The level recorded was over five times the safe limit of 15 µg/m³. According to the test data, similar levels were recorded later in the day after the participant had been vaping in the same room.

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