Air Pollution in the Home
A new study, using state-of-the-art pollution monitoring equipment to comparing indoor air pollution levels with outdoor air pollution, has been launched ahead of this year’s
Clean Air Day (20 June).
The science project, commissioned by environment charity Global Action Plan, compared pollution levels over a 24-hour period in four towns and cities across the UK – London, Pontypridd, Liverpool and Lancaster.
The research, undertaken by National Air Quality Testing Services, monitored levels of ultrafine particle pollution both indoors and outdoors. The research identified the following:
- Peaks of this type of indoor air pollution occur as a result of everyday activities, particularly cooking and using a woodburner.
- The data shows that outdoor air pollution adds to indoor air pollution, creating a build-up of pollution in the home with pollution peaks taking longer than outdoors to disperse. The monitoring also identified that outdoor air pollution spikes created an increase in indoor air pollution.
- Ultrafine particle pollution levels were on average 3.5 times higher inside than outside, peaking at 560 times outdoor air pollution.
- The air pollution monitored consisted of ultrafine particles (UFPs).
According to a leading expert, ultrafine particles have the potential to have greater health impacts than PM10 or PM2.5 pollutants because they are smaller and evidence suggests they can be more easily absorbed into the body.
TIME KIDS SPEND INDOORS
Clean Air Day also commissioned Opinium Research to undertake research into the length of time children are spending indoors.
The research found that, according to parents, children are spending larger proportions of their waking hours indoors than the previous generation. Given that air pollution is worse indoors than outdoors, this will potentially expose them to more air pollution.
During the school week children are spending the majority of their waking hours after school at home, indoors – on average six hours a day. This rises to seven hours a day at the weekend.
Clean Air Day’s research has been launched ahead of a more in-depth study Into the effects of indoor air pollution on children’s health, being carried out by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).
THE SCALE OF THE UK’S AIR POLLUTION
One of the lead authors, Professor Stephen Holgate, a leading health and air pollution expert, said: ‘This study provides early indicators of the scale of the air pollution challenge that we face in the UK – not only on our streets but in our homes. With children spending increasing hours indoors exposing them to ultrafine particles of pollution, which can enter the bloodstream and could have a greater impact on vital organs, urgent action needs to be taken to address this issue of indoor air pollution.
‘Ultrafine particles have the potential to have greater health impacts than PM10 or PM2.5 because they can be more easily absorbed into the body. In addition their minute size means they behave together like a gas, are able to pass through the lungs into the circulation and get taken up into cells where they exert damaging effects.’