< Go Back How the Air in your house could be making you ill Over 15m homes are affected by Toxic Home Syndrome.
Air pollution inside the home is putting people at risk of developing heart disease, cancer and breathing problems, experts have today warned.
Toxic Home Syndrome, which affects around 15.3 million houses in the UK, is where a person's health deteriorates because of the air circulating in their home.
Scientists have warned simple day-today tasks, such as doing the washing or cooking dinner, could be putting families at risk of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and asthma.
Air circulating inside contains more than 900 chemicals, particles and biological materials with potential health effects.
Mould spores, pollen, radon, carbon monoxide and dander all lurk within homes, seeping through cracks in walls and floorboards, brought in on clothing or produced by wood burners, gas hobs and detergents used in cleaning.
Coughing, watery eyes, dizziness, sneezing, feeling tired and suffering headaches can be common signs of poor indoor air quality.
While more severe symptoms include eye irritation, rashes, muscle pain, respiratory problems, asthma, fever or chills, hearing loss, nose bleeds, wheezing and lung disease.
Air pollution is estimated to be the leading cause of environmental burden of disease in Europe.
Experts have called for people to ensure their homes are properly ventilated and urged the authorities to make it mandatory for new builds to come with a 'Healthy Home Mark', indicating a good ventilation system is installed.
Professor Peter Howarth, who specialises in allergy and respiratory medicine at Southampton University, called for increased awareness of what is being termed 'Toxic Home Syndrome'.
he said. 'Toxic Home Syndrome occurs when individuals and families are exposed to a potent mix of airborne pollutants within the home arising from poor ventilation, causing respiratory and skin diseases to occur more frequently,'
A pan-European study, carried out by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, revealed the impact indoor allergens has on disease and life expectancy.
Researchers confirmed a link between indoor exposure to pollutants and cardiovascular disease.
The annual burden of disease caused by inadequate indoor air quality is estimated to correspond a loss of more than two million healthy life years in the EU.
The researchers found pollutants in the home increase the burden of disease.
Fifty-seven per cent of the total burden relates to cardiovascular diseases, 23 per cent to lung cancer, 12 per cent to asthma and the remaining eight per cent is linked to other respiratory conditions.
The researchers suggest a change in the way homes in Europe are ventilated could reduce the overall burden of disease, by around 38 per cent.
Professor Howarth, said: 'Many people associate indoor air quality with more innocuous conditions such as eczema or asthma, however, I have seen many patients with serious health conditions due to pollutants within the home and the risk of cardiovascular disease should not be dismissed.
'With respect to asthma, mould allergy is recognised to be associated with worse asthma and poorer asthma control.
'The presence of moulds within the home is a reflection of poor ventilation and increased humidity.
'Homes with mould are also likely to have higher house dust mite allergen levels and this may worsen both respiratory and skin conditions.
'The lack of adequate ventilation within the home can also be associated with the build up of non-allergenic noxious fumes which are detrimental to health.'
He urged people to assess the systems they have in their homes, and called for new homes to come with a 'Healthy Home Mark', as an indication of good ventilation.
'I advise my patients to prioritise good household ventilation – assess the systems your home has in place and look to update them if they are faulty or out of date,' he told MailOnline.
'I would also like to see a 'Healthy Home Mark' on new homes to confirm that they have mechanical ventilation systems with effective heat exchange installed – to help reduce the health risks for future generations.'
Currently, just two per cent of the UK has mechanical ventilation systems installed throughout their home; which is concerning given this data,
Professor Howarth added.
'If people are exposed to high concentrations of pollutants over long periods of time, even non-chemically sensitive individuals can be susceptible to the associated serious health risks,' he said.
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