How does Air Quality affect our Health?

Air quality can affect a number of parameters in everyday life. From crop yield to water quality and buildings. It has a profound effect on our lives. But how does air quality affect our health? Find out more in our short blog.

There are many reasons to make air quality monitoring a top priority. Research has shown that poor air quality can have a significant effect on our health. It’s been reported by the WHO that nine out of ten people now breathe polluted air, this contributes to the death of around 7 million people each year1.

These alarming figures illustrate the seriousness of the situation and the stark reality that poor air quality is hard to escape.

How does outdoor air quality affect our health?

Outdoor air quality is closely linked to climate change and the effects of our use of fossil fuels.

Cancer Research recently published their findings on how air pollution can cause lung cancer in people who have never smoked2. As part of the TRACERx Lung Study. The programme found that exposure to air pollution promotes the growth of cells carrying cancer-causing mutations in the Lungs. Particulate Matter, particularly PM2.5 (tiny pollutant particles) have been identified as causing inflammation to the lungs which can lead to cancer.

This isn’t the only potential health implication which can arise as a result of outdoor air pollution. Other conditions that can be caused by this include; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), heart disease and Dementia.

While there are lots of contributing factors to outdoor air quality, many of which are outside an individual’s control, monitoring PM levels with low cost LPWAN sensors can be a good place to start assessing outdoor air quality. Through careful monitoring, information recorded by deployed sensors can be used to identify trends and build up data to allow you to make more informed decisions as to how you can improve outdoor air quality. In order to maximise your project’s effectiveness, it is essential for data to be monitored before and after measures are put in place.

How does indoor air quality affect our health?

Indoor air quality on the other hand is more within our own control. We’ve outlined some potential implications which can come as a result of poor indoor air quality.

Mould & Dampness

Not only is mould unsightly, it can also cause harm to your health. Following the tragic news of the death of 2 year old Awaab Ishak, the implications of mould exposure are sadly very real.

The increased cost of energy is likely to increase the risk of mould inside buildings too. With cold weather comes condensation. Ordinarily putting the heating on would help to dry out the air indoors, but with significant rises to the cost of energy, more and more people are turning their backs on their thermostat.

The most common causes of mould are:

  • Humidity
  • Condensation
  • Rising damp
  • Poor ventilation

Caused by excess moisture, moulds emit spores which can cause a variety of health issues. For babies, young children and those with underlying health conditions including allergies or respiratory conditions such as asthma, these spores can be even more harmful. Monitoring indoor air quality is a simple, yet effective way to alert Landlords, Housing Associations and homeowners of high moisture/humidity levels which can be used to identify the dew point and the need for ventilation.

How does air quality affect our health in the office and schools?

The WELL building standard has helped to transform health and wellbeing in buildings. It’s estimated we spend around 90% of our time in enclosed spaces. During this time, we inhale pollutants which can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. Elements such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Dioxide can all contribute to the overall indoor air quality.

We recently completed a project installing CO2 sensors throughout schools in Scotland. There have been numerous studies over the years about the effect CO2 levels has on our cognitivie performance. Read more about how using LoRaWAN® technology has helped to transform the overall performance and wellbeing in the classroom.

Why use IoT to monitor air quality?

LPWAN devices are ideal for monitoring air quality. With a long battery life of 5+ years, once deployed you can access recorded data from wherever you may be. Devices can be configured to your parameters. If readings fall outside of your set parameters an automated alert will be triggered from your software platform to notify you that an action needs to be taken i.e. open a window to improve ventilation. Data recorded by deployed devices can also be used as evidence of regulation compliance.

How can Alliot help?

While the impact of air quality can be serious for our health, IoT devices can be used to minimise the long-term effects and empower us with more intelligent data to make better decisions. Alliot offer a wide variety of indoor and outdoor air quality sensors and associated software. Whatever parameters you are looking to monitor, we can help you deliver projects of all sizes and locations. Whether you’re looking to monitor indoor air quality conditions in Social Housing across the country or optimise your office environments to improve staff wellbeing and productivity, our expert team are here to help. Contact us today to discuss your air quality monitoring requirements.

1 World Health Organisation 2018, How air pollution is detroying our health, accessed 30th November 2022, <https://www.who.int/news-room/spotlight/how-air-pollution-is-destroying-our-health>

2 Cancer Research UK 2022, Scientists reveal how air pollution can cause lung cancer in people who have never smoked, accessed 30th November 2022, <https://news.cancerresearchuk.org/2022/09/10/scientists-reveal-how-air-pollution-can-cause-lung-cancer-in-people-who-have-never-smoked/>