Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of premature death worldwide. The World Health Organisation estimates poor air quality contributes directly to about five percent of all deaths globally. In the UK alone, air pollution is a primary cause of many health conditions including heart disease and strokes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and respiratory infections. It has also been linked to impaired cognition and mental health disorders.

Air pollution is all around us – often invisible. This toxic air comes from many sources including vehicle engines, construction sites, building materials, household products, manufacturing, agriculture, and the burning of fossil fuels.

These pollutants include particulates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and gases.

Particulates
Particulates are small particles of dust, soot, smoke, acids, organic chemicals, metals, aerosols, droplets, and other materials suspended in the air. They are so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye.
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Gases
The major gaseous pollutants with potential to affect human health are ozone (03), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and carbon monoxide (CO). While carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant, its presence in high concentrations indoors (more than 1000 micrograms per square metre) is a proxy for the presence of viruses such as Covid-19.
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VOCs
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are common indoor and outdoor pollutants, some of which have potential to cause harm to human health. While there are thousands of these compounds, the most common include benzene, butanol, ethanol, formaldehyde, terpenes, toluene, and xylene (from traffic emissions, including idling cars).
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