People with heart or lung problems should be asked about the quality of air in their homes by their doctors, health officials have said. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said that people with breathing or cardiovascular conditions who have “repeated or worsening respiratory symptoms” should be asked about their housing conditions by a healthcare professional.
It said that exposure to poor indoor air quality may cause or worsen symptoms such as cough and wheeze, particularly among those who have these conditions. MyLondon has written stories on London housing, where damp and/or mould was causing breathing difficulties for residents.
One man from Ealing was forced to sleep on his bathroom floor after the damp and mould in his bedroom, he says, led to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory lung disease.
Read more: Housing association Clarion with flats full of mould and pests given £5.2m by government
Baldev, who has lived in the property for 22 years, told MyLondon: “It feels like I’m being poisoned by the property. It’s so poorly ventilated, I feel like I can’t breathe. The blinds in the bedroom are all sticky and mouldy. It feels like that’s what has happened to my lungs and my skin.”
Another case showed a single mum of two in West London who said her two-year-old son now has to use an inhaler to help his breathing because of the horrendous black mould that has consumed their home.
The new draft “quality standard” from NICE says that asking people about their housing conditions will “allow healthcare professionals to consider and address factors that could be contributing to or causing their respiratory symptoms”.
It also suggests that local authorities develop a process to help people when poor indoor air quality is identified or suspected. Questions about air quality could include gathering information on ventilation and room size as well as damp and mould exposure.
People might also be asked about the location of their homes and whether noise or security risks mean residents do not open windows or that they are exposed to outdoor air pollution. Nice has launched a consultation on its quality standard which will run until April 11.
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