UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Changes in exposure to domestic PM2.5 in London

30 November 2016

By Clive Shrubsole


Dr Marcella Ucci 

Dr Ian Ridley

2009- 2014

This research investigates changes in indoor domestic exposure to PM2.5 in London as a result of the application of energy efficiency and ventilation strategies required to decarbonise the built environment.

European and domestic legislation motivated by CO2 reduction concerns will result in increased energy efficiency and airtightness in UK domestic buildings in the coming decades, leading to changes in internal air quality (IAQ) and pollutant exposure profiles. Quantification of the changes in concentrations of airborne pollutants such as PM2.5 is needed due to its known impacts on population health.

Indoor PM2.5 concentrations are dependent on a range of interacting factors, such as external meteorological conditions and pollutant concentrations; location; building characteristics; indoor sources; occupant behaviour and ventilation use. This degree of complexity requires a modelling approach when predicting both current exposures and the effects of climate change mitigation strategies on the future building stock. 

Little work has been carried out to consider this 'unintended consequence' of decarbonising the built environment. This research is therefore timely and needed to address these issues robustly and to consider holistically the multiple factors that contribute to indoor PM2.5 pollutant exposure, both now and in a future low-carbon scenario. 

“For some socio-technical systems, simulation is the only way we know of investigating their future states.....If you do not trust a carefully executed simulation, you probably have less reason to trust anything else, including the way you currently make decisions.” Jeffry Johnson (2001) 


• J. Johnson (2001) The “can you trust it?” problem of simulation science in the design of socio-technical systems, Complexity 6 (2) 34–40