Can You Be Allergic to Central Heating Radiators?
The Answer is YES! Indirectly as dust is a major factor for occupants with reduced or low immune systems!!
Radiators collect and recirculate dust particles via heat convection. This increases exposure levels of toxic pollutants trapped in dust particles in the air we breathe indoors.
These are potent triggers for allergies, asthma, asthma attacks and respiratory infections that are drastically increasing annually during the winter months. Peaking in September and December reflected in NHS (A&E) admissions requiring emergency treatments.
Question - Are central heating radiators becoming equivalent to the indoor diesel car that is going unnoticed, as a result of adverse effects when using central heating in airtight buildings?
Extracts which have been collated from The Keele Research Evidence Report
Between 1986 and 2006 house sizes became smaller in terms of floor area and volume. The reduction in volume when combined with airtightness and restricted air infiltration has resulted in internal air change rates reducing by close to 90% resulting in poor air quality issues.
Ventilating homes is often an issue when concerned about energy consumption. Balancing air quality and energy for heating, particularly in winter months can be challenging for those wishing to save money and optimise their heating.
Respondents to a research survey indicated that 70% aired the house for cleaning at least once every two weeks. However, those that did open their windows did so for less than 15 minutes, with only a few people allowing 30 minutes or more for an air change.
Low ventilation may lead to high indoor humidity and moisture accumulation in building structures or materials.
This may lead to increased dust mites, and particularly high humidity can increase the risk of microbial growth, and subsequently to microbial contamination and other emissions in buildings.
In epidemiological studies, moisture damage in the building was associated with a number of health effects including respiratory symptoms and diseases
The most common suspended matter are fibrous particulates, bacteria and fungi, house dust mite (HDM) allergens, pollen and dust.
Dust is a mixture of fibres, dead skin cells, bugs, soil particles, and residues of furniture, electronics and other domestic consumer products.
Peanut allergy is an important public health concern, particularly for infants where peanut consumption takes place, there are also traces of biologically active peanut protein in dust.
Complimenting this, there have been other studies which have demonstrated quantifiable levels of protein from egg, milk and fish in vacuumed household dust.
House dust mites
House dust mites thrive in high humidity environments which moistens their major food source: human skin scales. They excrete a range of highly allergenic proteins that have been identified both as a causal mechanism in the development of asthma and as irritants likely to trigger and exacerbate asthmatic symptoms.
The majority of dust reservoirs in dwellings contained house dust mite allergen levels above the WHO sensitisation threshold of 2 µg/g in fine dust, with 56% of beds found to contain concentrations known to cause an immediate acute reaction (10 µg/g).
Our dwellings are becoming warmer and more humid: conditions that are ideal for HDM infestation and proliferation. This is likely to be the key variable in driving asthma prevalence. It is estimated that the number of people with asthma will grow by more than 100 million by 2025.
Similar to asbestos, a significant proportion of the current asthma pandemic and ill health that is being driven by poor indoor air quality is preventable if the Scottish and UK governments are willing to recognise the existing evidence base.
Persistence and severity of asthma has been associated with sensitization and exposure to Alternaria Alternata, one of the most common fungi associated with asthma.
This fungi is normally associated with outdoor exposure, however, is also found in indoor environments.
Spores are considered the primary source of fungal allergens; however, other biologically active molecules derived from fungi can be transported by house dust. There is a positive association between Alternaria Alternata in the home and Asthma.
Mould exposure in homes has also been associated with Asthma and an otherwise net negative impact on health.
Particulate matter and indoor air quality are associated with cardiovascular disease. For particulate matter in indoor air, numerous studies indicate that these may affect occupant health even at very low values, making it very difficult to set a threshold concentration below which there are no effects on health.
PBDE’s have consequences for children’s neurodevelopment, with negative consequences for reading skills and is associated with behavioural problems at age 8. Exposure to dust containing PBDE’s has greatest impacts on toddlers and efforts should be taken to remove products from the home which contain PBDE’s. Household cleaning of dust is a practical means to reduce occupant exposure.
OPFRs (flame retardants) and phthalates are known environmental contaminants present in house dust. These are some of the more major concerns for contents in house dust!
It has been reported in the Daily Mail on Tuesday 16th July 2019, that Unborn babies are at risk of being pre-polluted by toxins in an everyday household item.
It can be logical to assume that radiators that are not periodically cleaned can have unforeseen impact and influence on occupant’s health when in use in the winter months in airtight buildings.
This picture of a radiator which was removed from a client’s home demonstrates the potentially heightened risk of exposure from the dust particles re-circulating around the home.
Occupants are at higher exposure risk to the particles in close proximity to the radiator. Sources of turbulent air (e.g. heating/cooling, ventilation, occupant movement) can re-suspend deposited particulate matter.
With potentially up to 90% of time spent in indoor environments for some people combined with issues of airtightness and resultant increasing indoor air quality issues from lack of air changes, we are spending more time in environments which could be harmful to our health.
Airtightness for thermal efficiency in buildings in conjunction with the lack of access to periodically deep clean radiators could increase the heightened risk to polluted dust particle exposure.
By installing a Rotarad access kit to your radiators for periodic deep cleaning, to reduce and control exposure levels of circulating contaminated dust particles can make a significant contribution to improving poor indoor air quality issues, that are impacting your health and wellbeing when indoors.