Air Pollution

Air pollution is the leading avoidable cause of death worldwide.

With smoking on the decline, air pollution now causes more deaths annually than tobacco, causing at least 8 million premature deaths a year. 

World Heath Organisation (WHO) data shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. From smog hanging over cities to smoke inside the home, the combined effects of outdoor and indoor air pollution pose a major threat to health, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections.

Outdoor air pollution 

According to the WHO, worldwide outdoor air pollution accounts for:

  • 29% of all deaths and disease from lung cancer
  • 17% of all deaths and disease from acute lower respiratory infection
  • 24% of all deaths from stroke
  • 25% of all deaths and disease from ischaemic heart disease
  • 43% of all deaths and disease from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

The pollutants of greatest health concern, include particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) but the health risks associated with particulate matter of less than 10 and 2.5 microns in diameter (PM10 and PM2.5) are especially well documented. PM2.5 is the deadliest form of air pollution due to its ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and blood stream causing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and respiratory impacts. In 2013, PM2.5 was classified as a cause of lung cancer.

Exposure to PM2.5 has multiple health impacts. Short term include irritation in the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath. A prolonged exposure to PM2.5 can cause permanent respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, heart disease and cancer. Exposure during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight, pre-term birth and small gestational age births.  

While PM2.5 impacts everyone, people with breathing and heart problems, children and the elderly are most sensitive to it.

Unlike other monitors, BREATHE|Smart air quality monitors specifically measure concentrations of PM2.5 in the air you are breathing.

Indoor Air

Its not just outside air pollution that is the problem as increasingly energy-efficient airtight buildings make our indoor air a deadly threat. 

We spend, on average, 90% of our time indoors and for children this can be nearer 100%. Children breathe faster than adults and their lungs are still developing, magnifying the impacts of ingesting harmful particulates.

Sources of indoor air pollution include cooking, smoking, faulty boilers, gas cookers and heaters, as well as irritant chemicals from new furniture, air fresheners and household cleaning products. 

Your own kitchen can be a big source of pollution; frying pans, ovens and toasters can all emit particulate matter. A 2019 study found that cooking a roast dinner can create air pollution that is on a par with the world’s smoggiest cities. 


BREATHE|Smart will let you know when you need to increase ventilation to reduce the harmful effects of poor air quality in your home or workspace.

Reducing your exposure

While it's impossible to avoid exposure to air pollution completely, you still have to live your life after all, when you know what's in the air you are breathing, you can take steps to reduce your exposure and minimise the negative health effects on you and your family.

  • Avoid exercising or working outdoors for long periods of time when pollution levels are high.

  • Use an air purifier at home.

  • Walk, run and cycle on lower vehicle traffic routes.
  • Route choice is also important for drivers as exhaust fumes can become concentrated inside a car. While it is easy to feel protected inside a sealed car, walking on a traffic-clogged road generally exposes you to less pollution than driving on one.
  • Avoiding regular physical activity alongside high-traffic roadways or near other sources of combustion.

  • Avoid indoor sources of particles such as wood burning stoves, fireplaces and candles.


Learn how how air pollution slips unnoticed past our body's defences causing deaths from heart attack, strokes, lung disease and cancer.

Source - World Health Organisation