Indoor air pollution

Dyson finds IAQ worse than OAQ

Dyson has released its first report from the Global Air Quality Connected Data project, examining indoor air quality data from more than 500 billion data points.

The data was collected worldwide from approximately 2.5 million Dyson air purifiers between 2022 and 2023. The focus of the study was to examine indoor air quality on a granular level in real-life and domestic settings. Of the 2.5 million air purifiers in the study, 105,768 were located in Australia.

The study examines two types of pollutants: PM2.5 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). PM2.5 is 2.5 microns in diameter and is invisible to the naked eye – it is caused by pollens, dust, pet dander and means of combustion (such as gas cooking or heating). VOCs are gas pollutants that can also be caused by cooking or emitted through cleaning and the use of products like deodorants or candles.

Dyson’s Engineering Director for Environmental Care, Matt Jennings, says air pollution is anything that’s carried in the air that has the potential to cause people harm.

“Indoor air pollution is … complicated and nuanced,” he explains. “It can be things like cleaning solvents, combustion of fuels for cooking or heating, or allergens to pet dander.”

The study found most countries studied exceeded outdoor PM2.5 levels for six months or more – including Australia. The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend an average limit of PM2.5 exposure (<5μg/m³). The indoor annual average PM2.5 levels in Australia in 2022 was 7.19μg/m³, with the highest levels recorded during winter in July at 8.31μg/m³.

According to the WHO, PM2.5 can penetrate the body through the lungs and enter the blood stream, and can cause diseases in both cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

“There can be real serious problems in your indoor settings – just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there,” says Jennings.

The highest indoor air pollution was detected in homes during the evenings. In Australia, the highest levels of PM2.5 and VOCs pollution were measured between 6pm and 1am. The levels would peak at 10pm before dropping during the night. The lowest levels were recorded at midday into the afternoon.

On a global scale, India and China had the highest average PM2.5 level. The report hypothesises this is due to the relationship between indoor and outdoor air quality. Australia ranked 28th – below the UK (22nd), USA (26th) and Canada (27th). The top five cities with the highest averages included Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Busan.

Chair of Intensive Care Medicine at University College London, Professor Hugh Montgomery, says the findings provide a valuable insight into the real pollution levels in homes across the world, outlining the patterns of pollution daily, monthly and seasonally.

“The Dyson data is an incredibly powerful education tool and the opportunities for positive impact are boundless – understanding the pollution around us is the first step to reducing our pollution exposure,” he says.

The full report is available to read here.

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