New guideline welcomed as millions at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks triggered by poor indoor air quality

Responding to the guideline issued on air quality in the home by NICE, Jessica Kirby, Head of Health Advice at Asthma UK, says:

“Toxic air in the home can be dangerous for millions of people with asthma, so we welcome the publication of this guideline.

“Dust*, fragrances**, mould*** and paint fumes**** are ranked as hazardous by people with asthma and can trigger potentially fatal asthma attacks. Indoor tasks most of us might think to be mundane, like drying clothes or redecorating, can create serious problems for people with asthma, inflaming airways and causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and breathlessness to flare up.

People living in housing with poor insulation and ventilation are more likely to be exposed to things that can trigger asthma attacks, so it’s vital homeowners and tenants know the risks and what to do about them.

“It can feel hard to escape the dangers posed by poor air quality indoors, but speaking to your GP or asthma nurse could help you find some realistic solutions to cut your risk. This could, for example, include removing scented products from the home or advising friends you visit about things that pose a risk for you.

“Whatever it is that triggers your asthma symptoms, the best way to stay well is to take your preventer inhaler (usually brown) to build up protection in your airways over time. And keep your reliever inhaler (usually blue) nearby, so you can use it if you need to. It’s also important to follow your written asthma action plan and make sure you have a yearly asthma review. For more information visit www.asthma.org.uk/triggers

“It’s important we keep raising awareness about the risks people with asthma face from poor air quality. Three people die every day in the UK from an asthma attack*****, and two-thirds of asthma deaths are preventable with better basic care and self-management.”

Notes to Editors:

*In Falling through the gaps: Why more people need basic asthma care, Asthma UK found 63.7% of those surveyed across the UK said dust triggered their asthma. When applied to the asthma population of 5.4million people in the UK, this equates to 3.4million, p34.

** In the same report, Asthma UK found 47.7% said perfumes and aerosols triggered their asthma. When applied to the asthma population of 5.4million people in the UK, this equates to 2.6million.

***In the same report, Asthma UK found 42.3% said moulds and fungi triggered their asthma. When applied to the asthma population of 5.4million people in the UK, this equates to 2.3million.

****In the same report, Asthma UK found 37.9% said paint fumes triggered their asthma. When applied to the asthma population of 5.4million people in the UK, this equates to 2million.

*****Office for National Statistics (ONS) – England & Wales, Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA), National Records of Scotland (NRS).