Aims and Motivation
Motivations: The general population stays ca. 90% of time indoors with a trend in the UK towards increasing periods spent inside. Vulnerable Groups (VGs) including children (age: 0–16; VGI) and people with pre-existing medical conditions (VGII) remain indoors for even longer periods. Yet, the air inside children’s rooms, particularly at disadvantaged homes, can be five times more polluted than outside air (EPA, 1987; DEC, 2016). VGs are also most susceptible to Air Pollution (AP) (COMEAP, 2010). VGs can be affected by single exposures to ambient Particulate Matter (PM) that can exacerbate disease within hours or days (WHO, 2013). The disproportionate impact on children starts already before birth: maternal exposure to AP has been reported to have serious health outcomes in offspring by affecting embryonic phases of development (Saha et al., 2018). Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is also known to be linked to poor outdoor Air Quality (AQ), but current evidence on association with indoor AQ is less clear (Hansel et al., 2016); air pollution accounts for 9.7% of COPD hospital admissions, i.e. ~14k admissions/year (BLF, 2016).
While current air quality monitoring networks are well developed across the UK and provide detailed information on average concentrations of known outdoor pollutants to establish compliance with exposure limits, individual human exposure is not captured and the actual impact of air pollution is highly variable depending on personal circumstances. This currently biased focus on the outdoors and the general population leaves major gaps in the crucial understanding of where & when VGs are exposed to peak concentrations and what are the associated health risks & economic consequences specifically to them — this will require a fundamentally new cross-disciplinary focus on yet under-researched Indoor/Outdoor Interfaces.
Long-term Network Vision: To develop innovative and cost-effective behaviour and technology interventions to reduce future air pollution exposure and improve health of vulnerable groups and implement these interventions through policy advice, planning, and business innovation.
Network Aim: To (i) build a self-sustaining and interdisciplinary network of academics, stakeholders and industry capable to deliver co-designed research and innovation for developing robust solutions that reduce the impact of pollution on VGs; and (ii) cross-link to UK and international expertise to establish research gaps, effective behaviour and technology intervention opportunities and catalyse future cross-disciplinary research capability