Is air pollution really a problem in the UK?

Despite schemes to reduce it, air pollution remains a growing concern throughout the UK – especially in cities. 

Continued exposure to high levels of air pollution can have a severe impact on your health and wellbeing, putting you at a greater risk of respiratory infections, lung cancer and heart disease. 

Air pollution issues in cities

Air pollution in UK cities is still an issue with several areas exceeding World Health Organisation air pollution limits. 

Birmingham alone has 27 postcodes that exceed the limits, with 46 schools being located in those areas. With children being more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution due to their developing immune systems and organs, this is a worrying statistic. 

Similarly, London’s air quality, which is already affected by a dense population and high traffic levels, is still being affected by leaded petrol despite it being banned in the 1990s. Researchers from the Imperial College London have found that although lead levels have dropped in London since the lead additives in petrol were phased out, the city is still affected by lead-enriched airborne particles that are high compared to background levels.  

According to the study, up to 40% of lead in airborne particles today come from previously-used leaded petrol. This is a big reminder of the long-term effect that human activities can have on air quality and the environment as a whole. 

Worsening indoor air pollution

Air pollution isn’t just an issue when you’re outside though, indoor air quality can be just as bad, especially if you regularly need to open your windows in urban areas. In fact, new research has found that indoor air quality hasn’t gotten worse over the last year since so many people started working from home. 

A study by Airthings found that indoor carbon dioxide (CO2) levels saw a noticeable spike in March last year when lockdowns began. There was also a steady rise in indoor CO2 in autumn when the UK went into a second lockdown, with levels increasing by over 25% in the UK at the start of November. 

The research also looked at trends in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are a combination of odours and gases that are emitted from toxins and chemicals from everyday items – such as new furniture and cooking fumes. Researches found that the UK also saw several VOC peaks throughout last year. 

Even with more people returning to their offices at least part-time, this is unlikely to see indoor pollution drop dramatically as outdoor air quality is still an issue.  

How do you improve air quality at home?

There are steps you can take to help reduce your impact on overall air pollution, there is a quicker way that you can improve the air quality of your home – especially if you are now spending time working from your home office. 

There are several different ways that you can improve the air quality in your home, which is important if you are spending more time working from home. Some easy ways include:

  • Keeping your house clean: Vacuuming once or twice a week if you have carpet helps to reduce small particles in the air. You should regularly clean bedding, curtains and other fabric items that attract allergens. Clearing out any clutter will also help as many items trap and hold dust. 
  • Put plants outside: While houseplants can brighten up your home, they don’t have a big effect on air quality. Research has found that although some plants can purify the air, they don’t do it to such an extent to have a big impact on the air quality of your home. In fact, they can actually lead to the growth of mould, which can reduce air quality.  
  • Allow air flow: You need fresh air throughout your home to stop the air from getting stagnant and to reduce dust and other contaminants. You should keep fresh air flowing regularly even in the colder months. 
  • Use your cooker hood: Cooking causes fumes, which can affect the air quality of your home. Using the fan in your cooker hood reduces these and leaves your air cleaner. However, you do have to make sure that you replace the filter regularly for your cooker hood to be effective.

If you’re looking for an effective long-term solution to improving air quality and reducing indoor pollution, air conditioning could be the answer. 

Home air conditioning solutions could help improve your air quality due to its filtration systems. At Urban Cooling, we use a charcoal air filtration system that purifies the air by reducing dust, bacteria, moisture and pathogen levels. This creates a healthier environment, which is key for children and those with asthma, respiratory issues, hay fever and allergies. 

Even better, with air conditioning keeping your home cool and comfortable all year round, you don’t need to open any windows to reduce the temperature and get some airflow. This helps to reduce the amount of outdoor air pollution getting into your home, further improving air quality. 

If you want to discuss our home cooling solutions or find out more about how air conditioning can improve air quality, download our free guide today or contact us by calling 020 8080 9708 or by filling in our contact form