NewsResearchHow do air pollutants in indoor spaces affect our health? Three research projects find answers

Three new research projects will investigate how air pollutants in indoor spaces can adversely affect the health of the people inhabiting them.
Content Team2 months ago6 min

The way in which air pollutants in indoor spaces impact on human health is being investigated by researchers on three major projects. Academics have received a share of £9 million funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to better understand how the composition, concentration and exposures of air pollutants affect:

  1. Children with asthma.
  2. People living in urban homes.
  3. A third project will build a platform to identify the worst pollutants and establish their link with neurological disease.

In the UK, poor air quality is a severe environmental risk to public health, with air pollution estimated to be responsible for 40,000 early deaths a year.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Indoor air pollution is a critical public health issue. Building our understanding and evidence base around it is essential so that any future action is appropriately targeted and effective.

Poor air quality is a severe environmental risk to public health

“The government is already taking important steps, including phasing out the sale of coal and wet wood, a major contributor to the emissions of fine particulate matter, and making it easier for local authorities to tackle emissions from domestic burning through our Environment Bill. These projects will help add to our evidence base, building on the forthcoming report from our Air Quality Expert Group and guidelines published by Public Health England to help us all better understand this issue.”

Identifying levels of toxicity

One of the projects will see researchers also develop a new platform to evaluate current and future pollutants in our environment. Using a chamber that can accurately simulate different types of air pollution exposure, the new platform will identify how toxic different types of air pollutants are, including:

  • diesel exhaust fumes
  • woodsmoke
  • cooking emissions

The project will particularly focus on how common pollutants impact on neurological disease and cognitive function.

Leading the project, Professor Gordon McFiggans, of The University of Manchester, said:

“Our exciting new collaboration will build national capability, enabling fundamental understanding of toxicological mechanisms causing adverse health outcomes from exposure to various air pollutants. Using this platform, we will study impacts of pollution on neurological disease, providing a hazard ranking of pollutant sources. This can inform policy decisions about the sorts of pollution to avoid to reduce ill health. Our platform will be used in future to study other diseases.”

Support

The four-year projects are part of UKRI’s Clean Air Programme, with investment supported through UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund.

Each project will bring together specialists from communities in:

  • environment
  • social and medical
  • engineering
  • economics sciences
  • health.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Indoor air pollution is a critical public health issue. Building our understanding and evidence base around it is essential so that any future action is appropriately targeted and effective.

“The government is already taking important steps, including phasing out the sale of coal and wet wood, a major contributor to the emissions of fine particulate matter, and making it easier for local authorities to tackle emissions from domestic burning through our Environment Bill.

“These projects will help add to our evidence base, building on the forthcoming report from our Air Quality Expert Group and guidelines published by Public Health England to help us all better understand this issue.


Follow this link to find more content on how air pollutants in indoor spaces affect our health.

Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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