Lifelong impact of air pollution on our health


According to this report, each year in the UK, the air we breathe contributes to around 40,000 deaths - caused by exposure to outdoor air pollution, with more deaths now being linked also to exposure to indoor pollutants. The report outlines that air pollution plays a role in many of our major health challenges: and has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia. 

The report details that ambient air pollution in the UK largely comprises small and ultra-fine particles, oxides of nitrogen and ozone. Although pollution often cannot be seen or smelled here in the UK, its effects can be dangerously harmful.

When you keep these facts in mind and multiply the implications by the effects of urbanisation – whereby in the last 200 years our total population living in cities has increased from 2% to 50% - and is still rising rapidly – the concentration of the effects of air pollution in urban areas is only going to propagate.

So it has never been more important to look at what we can do to safeguard them – the way we design our buildings can have an impact in two ways.

Firstly, if we are building in urban areas, using mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems will keep outdoor pollution outside – yet still provide us with ample fresh air.

Secondly, as this report also outlines, we should also minimise the effects of any internal pollutants, and where possible it makes sense to use active products that can scavenge any pollutants from our indoor environments – such as ACTIVair technology from British Gypsum.

You can download a copy of the Royal College of Physicians report here.