Stop drying clothes indoors and open windows when cooking to cut risks of indoor pollution, health bosses warn

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STOP drying your clothes indoors and always open a window when you cook.

That’s the advice from health bosses who are concerned at the levels of indoor pollution many of us live with.

Health bosses are urging people to stop drying clothes indoor - or at least, to open a window if they have no option
Health bosses are urging people to stop drying clothes indoor – or at least, to open a window if they have no option
Getty – Contributor

Pre-schoolers who spend a lot of time at home, pregnant women, the disabled and elderly may be especially vulnerable to the effects of pollution and poor ventilation, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said.

The new guidelines say that we should all be using extractor fans or opening the windows while cooking, drying clothes indoors, using household sprays and paints.

Candles are a risk

Households need to be ventilated when candles are lit and when you’re having a bath or shower.

The advice is for everyone but particularly affects vulnerable groups including people with lung conditions such as asthma.

Health bosses are also urging pregnant women to reduce their use of aerosols and household cleaning sprays.

Gill Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at Nice, said that poor air quality is linked to an increase in risk of health problems.

Pollution can make asthma worse

“Poor ventilation leads to a build-up of pollutants which can exacerbate illnesses such as asthma.

“Councils are in a good position to raise awareness among the general public.

“It’s important that local authority departments from social housing to providers of social care work together to identify, prevent and improve poor indoor air quality.”

Alan Maryon-Davis, honorary professor of public health at King’s College London, said: “We are all very aware of the detrimental health effects of outdoor air pollution.

“But how many of us think about the air quality inside our homes?

Cooking and cleaning largely to blame

“Many people spend most of their time at home indoors, and the pollutants we create through cooking and cleaning, or those arising from mould or building materials, can all too easily cause or exacerbate respiratory conditions and other health problems.”

Nice said housing conditions that put people at increased risk of exposure to poor indoor air include living near high levels of outdoor air pollution, living in small cramped rooms and having damp.

Builders should build with pollution risk in mind

So the new advice also urges architects and builders to consider both indoor and outdoor pollution when planning heating and ventilation for buildings.
Dr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead and GP at Asthma UK, said: “The effects of outdoor air pollution on the nation’s health is well known but toxic air in the home can be an invisible killer, especially for the 5.4million people with asthma in the UK.

“It is very encouraging that awareness is being raised among homeowners, landlords and architects so that measures can be taken to keep people with asthma safe.”


Cleaning products, smoke from fires and damp can all trigger life-threatening asthma attacks – but, Dr Whittamore says, there are steps you can take to cut your risk.

“Make sure you take your preventer inhaler (usually brown) as prescribed, follow your written asthma action plan and make sure you have a yearly asthma review.

“If you notice your symptoms are getting worse make sure you see your GP. For more information visit www.asthma.org.uk/triggers.”


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