Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Effects of Indoor Mould on Asthma - Time to Act!

A comprehensive new review on childhood asthma thoroughly assesses the current understanding of the effect of multiple potential indoor causes of childhood asthma.

As preventative measures the following three actions were investigated:
  1. Avoiding or reducing the source of an indoor factor that might have adverse effects on the onset of asthma
  2. Reducing the concentration of, or diluting, the indoor air pollutants through increased ventilation
  3. Increasing air exchange rates or removal of dust.
Each preventative suggestion was weighed up for suitability of use against each potential cause of childhood asthma that has been researched so far. Factors influencing the assessment included practicality and affordability alongside the likelihood that it would help prevent asthma in children.

As a summary of the findings of this review for this blog, specific causes are listed below with conclusions inset underneath:
  • Tobacco smoke
    • Strong need to avoid exposing children - no more research needed
  • Cleaning activities
    • No evidence that this is bad for children - more research needed
  • Emissions of gas cooking
    • Ensure extensive ventilation is in place - precautionary advice
  • Renovation & redecoration activities
    • Ensure extensive ventilation is in place - precautionary advice
  • Traffic related pollutants which penetrate indoors
    • Probably not a strong influence on childhood asthma, but avoid if possible
  •  Pets and pet derived allergens
    • Avoidance not recommended - no more research needed
  • Mite allergens
    • Avoidance not possible, ventilate to avoid damp
  • Dampness and mould derived components
    • Strong need to avoid exposing children - treat sources of damp and ventilate well
Overall the actions recommended are:
we conclude that it is time to act against exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, water damage and insufficient ventilation in order to prevent asthma onset in childhood. As a precautionary principle, more attention has to be paid for a general increased air exchange rate and active ventilation. More research is needed for a better understanding of potential adverse health effects on the frequent use of cleaning chemical agents, on emissions from paintings, on floorings and other building materials and finally on damp related mould components.
It it noteworthy that the most cost effective and widely applicable action we can all take to avoid the onset of childhood asthma is to ensure that our homes are well ventilated with a good airflow encouraged. Of course this isn't easy in cold weather but is nonetheless important. Suggestions include extractor fans are good at keeping moisture levels down in the rooms they are fitted and allow little cold air into the room, keep lids on pans of boiling water to avoid introducing huge amounts of steam into the house and so on.


    Jim H. White said...

    FACT 1 Most people, incuding many health & housing researchers, do not know how to properly ventilate their homes. Send them to a site where they can get good information on how to ventilate well.
    FACT 2 In most climates within tens of kilometers of open water, dehumidification will be needed as well as ventilation; dehumidification may be the #1 priority, not ventilation! Send them to a site that can help them buy a good quality, energy-efficient dehumidifier.
    FACT 3 Dehumidification can be cost effective in providing warmth in coastal climates in that a good unit releases several Watts of heat per Watt of electricity used.
    (Jim H. White - former Senior Advisor of Building Science @ CMHC)

    Website Team Graham said...

    Would you like to expand on your comments? Where can we get this information?

    I would guess that the need for dehumidification is very dependent on humidity, which is turn is very dependent on the part of the world you live in?
    In the UK it would be better to ventilate to remove the source of humidity & moisture, but perhaps in some parts of the world there is enough humidity in the outside air to make this less efficient - as fast as you let moisture out it could come back in again!

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