Air quality in rural areas

Air quality: Is pollution affecting our health?

Leaders of the world, scientists, celebrities and even the general public are expressing their growing concern over global warming. Even Leonardo Dicaprio used his Oscar speech to mention the affects we have on the health of our plant. Air pollution is a key factor that is at the forefront of this debate, with many countries not hitting the WHO (World Health Organisations) air quality guideline target.

When it comes to air pollution; China may never be far from everyone’s lips, but there are plenty other countries that should follow. Qatar, Egypt and Mongolia are further examples of countries well over the WHO air quality target, and the list just goes on!

No matter how controversial the science behind it, we all know pollution damages the health of our planet. Does that also mean we are being affected by
the quality of our air?

According to the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health, Air pollution from carsoutdoor air pollution contributes to an estimated 40,000 deaths a year in the UK alone. Outdoor pollution has been linked to a number of health problems including:

  • cancer
  • asthma
  • stroke and heart disease
  • dementia

Did you know:

  • An estimated 700,000 deaths a year are linked to air quality in China
  • By 2050 the total death toll of outdoor air pollution will reach about 6.6 million (double that of 2015)
  • Strokes and heart attacks account for around 3/4 air pollution deaths


Unfortunately drivers are exposed to high levels of pollution as traffic queues have become a great problem. Fumes from the car ahead can pass directly over and into the car behind.

Why not try:

  • Try leaving for work such that you miss the static traffic
  • Using public transport
  • Choosing an active route to work such as walking or cycling

Air quality of water vapour

Indoor health

So if outdoor air pollution is so bad, I guess it may put you at ease to say 90% of the average person’s time is spent indoors. If it did… sorry! It seems as if indoor air quality has been overlooked by everyone.

Prof Stephen Holgate, asthma expert at Southampton University and states: “Being indoors can offer some protection against outdoor air pollution, but it can also expose us to other air pollution sources.”


Mould can affect your health negatively with the production of allergens, irritants and toxic substances. These can cause respiratory problems such as asthma as well as other issues such as eczema. Ensuring your home is dry and ventilated properly will help ensure mould does not grow.

Simple mould prevent tips:

  • Open at least one window in each room for 15 minutes a day to keep house air fresh
  • When cooking make sure you put lids on saucepans to avoid increasing water vapour getting into the air
  • When constructing new home areas (such as extensions) use products that have mould-resistant qualities such as mould-resistant drywall and sheetrock
  • Use products such as Peter Cox’s Warmerwall anti-condensation coating to help control condensation


Air freshener that release chemicalsHousehold products

Cleaning products, air fresheners and scented candles release chemicals that react with air to create a potentially dangerous concoction. The chemicals within these products are regulated; however, the users are not.

Limonene, one chemical found in these products, does not pose a great threat to your health. However, soon after being released into the air it turns into formaldehyde. Yes, the same stuff we see in any schools science labs to preserve frogs and other organic objects. Yuck!

If for some reason that hasn’t made you stop and think, formaldehyde was listed as a human carcinogen. This gives it global recognition as a direct link to causing cancer.

How to improve indoor air quality

As previously mentioned, regular fresh air will help prevent the negative effects of indoor air pollution. This may seem simple enough but offices and other workspaces may not have the luxury of simply opening a window. So what can we do?

  1. Use micro droplet technology as opposed to aerosol products Micro droplet systems have at least 50% less propellants and solvents that contain harmful compounds. Not only is this premium source of scenting better for your health, it also ensures full coverage of the area it is set up for.
  2. Incorporate more plants into your workplace or home plants benefits aren’t just for the outdoors; there are plenty of indoor benefits of plants too!
    They can improve indoor air quality by absorbing pollutants including formaldehyde as well as reducing dust particulates.lavander

Did you know:

  • Lavender (Lavandula), Kaim-kum (Selaginella tamariscina) and Silver evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) are a selection of plants that effectively remove formaldehyde
  • The nerve plant (Fittonia argyroneura) effectively removes benzene, toluene and trichloroethylene
  • The Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) effectively removes octane and a-pinene
  • English ivy (Hedera helix) is a good all round absorber



Luckily, the air quality in the UK is far better than most eastern countries. It seems clear that we all need to make sure we get high quality air in our lungs, perhaps a trip the the countryside is in order for the weekend?

Crowd walking down a city street lined with trees
Scent of warm chocolate chip cookie

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