Our Air Quality: ‘Too dangerous to breathe’

6th December 2017

Worrying research by the Royal College of Physicians and Lancet Countdown states that the outdoor air quality in 44 out of 51 towns and cities surveyed in the UK in 2017 breaches World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

The study took samples of air from cities and towns across the UK and measured the levels of sooty particles they contained. These particles are known as PM2.5s and when PM2.5s are above ten micrograms per cubic meter of air, the WHO deems the air unsafe to breathe. Here are some of the results:

  • London: 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air
  • Glasgow: 16 micrograms per cubic meter of air
  • Nottingham: 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air
  • Southampton: 14 micrograms per cubic meter of air

The quality of the air we breathe is impacting our health and wellbeing with an estimated 40,000 people dying prematurely each year due to complaints directly linked to poor air quality such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Around 6 million sick days are lost a year due to pollution-related health problems and there’s growing evidence that other conditions such as dementia and stroke are made worse by air pollution.

It’s not just outside

Most worrying of all is that the quality of the air outside our buildings affects the quality of the air inside. Figures show that pollutants in the air we breathe indoors can be up to five times higher than levels recorded outside. Recent analyses found that 802 London schools and a high proportion of London’s hospitals and clinics are located in highly polluted areas, which puts some of society’s most vulnerable people at great risk, so it’s vital that indoor air quality is improved to ensure a more healthy living environment.

The EU has recently placed indoor air quality on its building agenda for the first time and plans to review building standards so that our buildings are better ventilated.

Guardian provides IAQ Monitoring to keep building occupants safe and healthy, whilst helping building owners comply with Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Air Quality Regulations. These regulations set out legal standards to ensure employers do all they can to prevent ill health.  For more details about these standards, please click here. For Guardian’s IAQ Monitoring Services, click here

Guardian also offers air hygiene assessment services to analyse the overall condition of systems designed to improve internal air quality; extract ventilation and ductwork, for kitchens, offices, schools, hospitals or any other commercial or public building. Click here for details.

With genuine health concerns at the forefront of public consciousness, it’s time to take internal air quality seriously.