As the clocks go back, could air pollution worsen?
This weekend marks the end of daylight saving time, and the beginning of darker evenings and longer nights. It’s a little-known fact that, as we head into winter, the quality of our air can be impacted, both indoors and outdoors. Various factors such as colder temperatures and our habits at home can affect the air we breathe – but there are ways to improve it.
The temperature factor
So how does winter weather affect our levels of air pollution? As the days get chillier, the air gets colder, which means that it becomes denser and sinks. In turn, any warm air has nowhere to go but over the cold air – forming a kind of bubble or cap. Any pollutants that may be present in the cold air are thus trapped or condensed under the cap, and as the cold air is denser, it is less like to disperse and blow away the pollutants.
The human factor
Along with this cold air comes an increase in the burning of fossil fuels – the heating of our homes, car engines idling as windows defrost and the lighting of wood burners all contribute to this. This type of activity increases levels of PM2.5, or particulate matter, which comprises of tiny pollutants that can penetrates deep into the body’s defences. This pollutant has been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and has even been classed as carcinogenic. It goes without saying that the presence of this pollutant both indoors and outdoors could have a serious impact on health.
So how can we improve the quality of our air? Here are our top tips:
- Car share wherever possible – or even better, walk or cycle!
- Make sure your home is energy efficient by checking appliances, bulbs and windows.
- When it comes to home air quality, ventilate regularly – but be sure to avoid times of peak traffic, especially if you live by a busy road or in a city.
- Consider investing in air purification. An air purifier can ensure clean air inside your home, with no risk of bringing pollutants from the outside in. Take a look here for more on our solutions.