Air pollution both inside and outside the home causes at least 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, according to new report, which estimates the cost of the damage at £20bn.
The major health impact of outdoor air pollution is relatively well known but the report, from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, also highlights the less understood impact of indoor pollution, as well as the growing evidence of harm to children’s health and intelligence.
Sources of indoor air pollution include smoking, faulty boilers, gas cookers and heaters, as well as irritant chemicals from new furniture, air fresheners and household cleaning products. House-dust mites, mould and dander from pets can also damage health, according to the report.
Outdoor pollution, much of it from vehicles, causes 40,000 deaths a year in the UK but the number linked to indoor pollution is not known. However, indoor air pollution is estimated to have caused or contributed to 99,000 deaths across Europe in 2012, the report states.
The report found unborn and young children were particularly susceptible to air pollution. “The developing heart, lung, brain, hormone systems and immunity can all be harmed by pollution,” the report said. “Research is beginning to point towards effects on growth, intelligence, asthma, and development of the brain and coordination. Harm to babies and children will have an impact that lasts far into the future.”