Smart city technology could help prevent health problems linked to poor indoor air quality, according to new research.
The study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, says that indoor pollution from smoke, building materials and fungal spores kills millions of people around the world every year and a lack of real-time air pollution data hinders simple safety precautions that could improve health and wellbeing.
To tackle this problem, new air pollution sensing methods could be deployed to determine indoor air quality and help control the concentration of air pollutants in urban homes.
“It is essential that we are able to effectively monitor indoor air pollution so that we can better understand when and where levels are worst, and in turn offer solutions to make our air healthier,” said Dr. Prashant Kumar of the University of Surrey. “Our work looks at the use of small, low-energy monitoring sensors that would be able to gather real-time data and tell families or workers when levels of pollutants are too high.”
The European, Australian and British researchers, led by the University of Surrey, noted that indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012, compared with 3.7 million for outdoor air pollution.
People who live in towns and cities typically spend 90% of their time indoors, and this has been linked to ‘Sick Building Syndrome’, where urban dwellers exhibit a range of ill health effects related to breathing indoor air.
“Sometimes the solution to this will be as simple as opening a window, but without knowledge at the right time these simple steps are often skipped,” Dr. Kumar continued. “With this research we are calling for greater importance to be placed on ensuring buildings are built with indoor pollution monitoring in mind. As we enter the age of smart cities this is one way in which technology will actively benefit health.”