Stay warm, but don't inhale

November 24, 2000

Energy-efficient homes that save heat in part by cutting ventilation could lead to higher levels of indoor air pollutants.

Computer modelling by Mike Ashmore at Bradford University has revealed the impact such influences can have on pollution levels.

The model is being developed to predict the frequency distribution of exposures to pollutants using available measurement data. It shows that personal exposure may vary by an order of magnitude depending on a host of factors, such as a home's specific characteristics and a person's activity patterns.

In most cases, the pollution profile will be dominated by domestic sources, but it also includes outdoor pollution and exposure at work, in vehicles and even in the pub.

One of Ashmore's modelling studies, to be published in Atmospheric Environment , shows that outdoor exposure to nitrogen dioxide is dwarfed by short-term peaks in indoor exposure, with cooking and smoking contributing at least half the total.

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