Frying food and burning wood and fuel can turn homes into “toxic boxes” with high levels of air pollution trapped inside, activists warned.
Case studies commissioned by the environmental charity's Global Action Plan (GAP) showed that ultrafine particle contamination was higher inside than outside at all four monitored properties. The tiny particles are believed to be especially harmful to health, as they can enter the bloodstream and flow around the body to vital organs.
The 24-hour tests were carried out at homes in London, Pontypridd, Liverpool and Lancaster. In the latter, the average of 40,000 particles per cubic meter inside the house was more than seven times the average outside. In London, the spike in indoor pollution resulted from frying sausages and steaks.
A GAP opinion poll also found that 55% of parents said their children spend more time indoors than when they were young, which could expose them to more air pollution. Only 11% of parents thought that their children spent more time outside than they did at that age.
Research published in February found that cooking a Sunday roast on a gas stove can lead to small particle pollution in homes, well above levels found in the most polluted cities on Earth for an hour or two.
In 2016, a report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, led by Professor Stephen Holgate, highlighted the impact of indoor pollution, with sources including boilers, heaters, and irritating chemicals from products. cleaning.
Holgate is preparing a more in-depth study on the effects of indoor air pollution on the health of children. "These [GAP case studies] provide early indicators of the scale of the air pollution challenge we face in the UK," he said. "As children spend more and more hours indoors, exposing them to ultrafine pollution particles, urgent action must be taken to address the problem of indoor air pollution."
“The combination of indoor and outdoor air pollution sources is turning our homes into toxic boxes, with the pollution trapped inside,” said Chris Large, senior partner at GAP, which organizes Clean Air Day on June 20.
"It is vital that we raise awareness that air pollution is everywhere, but that there are many things we can do, both indoors and outdoors," he said. "Some of the key things you can do are drive less often and walk or bike instead, and open a window when cooking at home."
Paul Young, whose Victorian house at the end of the terrace in Lancaster housed one of the case studies, saw spikes in pollution when his wood stove was in use. “Like many people, we like to create a homey environment, and yet I know that I am contributing to pollution in the rest of the city. We could seriously think about using the wood stove less often. "
GAP's advice on wood burners says: "If you are considering buying a wood burner, ask yourself if you really need it."
Emma Prior in Liverpool also organized a case study and is the mother of two teenagers with asthma. “I was very surprised to see the peaks inside my house. Now I'm going to see how to prioritize ventilation, "he said.