UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Elizabeth Cooper

Health costs and benefits of particle filtration that reduces indoor exposure to PM2.5 in residences

Home, for most people, represents a place of comfort, safety and wellbeing, and, on average, people spend more than 65% of their time there. It is important, therefore, to understand and quantify the indoor air quality (IAQ) in homes. Indoor air pollution concentrations can exceed health-based standards developed by the World Health Organization for both chronic and acute exposure, and previous studies have recognized the impact of indoor air pollution on total exposure. Numerous studies exist that consider the health benefits of different methods of particulate filtration. However, no studies were found that consider the efficacy, health, and financial implications of using air purifiers in residences.

In this study, measured values for PM2.5 concentrations for approximately 60 homes in three cities are used; Eindhoven, The Netherlands, Helsinki, Finland and London, UK. These measurements include indoor and outdoor concentrations of PM2.5 observed over several months during which air purifiers were employed in the homes. Data were also collected using personal air quality monitors carried by each participant for one week in the non-heating season which provides comprehensive time-activity analysis. The CONTAM modelled predictions of PM2.5 concentrations are used to assess the indoor air quality performance of existing domestic buildings, and to evaluate indoor air quality control technologies such as air purifiers. Predicted and measured contaminant concentrations are used to estimate personal exposure based on occupancy patterns established through the personal monitoring and surveys.

The work presented and proposed here takes a two-pronged approach to the assessment and impact of IAQ, using both measured and modelled methods to estimate indoor concentrations of PM2.5 in residences to predict morbidity and mortality costs of the use of portable air filtration. These results will be used to extrapolate to the U.K. housing stock, and to contribute to the aims of IEA EBC Annex 68.