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Indoor Pollution: The Invisible Threat

Air quality is a broad subject. It encompasses a number of environmental topics, and more often than not, it talks about the serious impact we as humans are having upon the world. When brought up in conversation, it’s likely that images of billowing fumes, congested traffic and city smog fill your mind.

While outdoor particles, allergens and pollutants undeniably pose a serious threat to all forms of life, air pollution doesn’t stop at your front door. In fact, it might be worse on the other side of the threshold.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately three billion people rely on solid fuels to cook food and heat their homes. They do so by burning materials such as wood and coal inside their houses, which ultimately results in extremely poor air quality, more harmful particles and a rise in dangerous pollutants. The website also states that more than four million people die from household air pollution each and every year.

Recently, experts at the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Environmental Research Unit (MEARU) have voiced their concerns over the rise of smart homes – and increasingly airtight ones in particular. The new builds may appear to protect residents, but in actual fact, they’re trapping harmful particles, pollutants and allergens inside - which means they can’t escape into the atmosphere.

The head of MEARU, Tim Sharpe, explained to the BBC how these homes are potentially toying with residents’ health. “Poor indoor air quality, particularly in bedrooms, is hard for people to detect,” he stated. “There are clear links between poor ventilation and ill-health so people need to be aware of the build up of CO2 and other pollutants in their homes and their potential impact on health,” he continued.


Image courtesy of Michael Shannon, Unsplash

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