Air Quality, Pollution and Housing

David Lawrenson says adverts for properties to buy or rent in low pollution areas will increasingly promote that fact. 

Air Quality, Pollution and Housing

Look at any property advert – whether for rent or sale – and there is plenty of useful information there for potential buyers to read, at least there ought to be.

One of the bits of information that you get, tells you all about the energy efficiency of the property and how well insulated it is, so you get some idea how much it will cost to heat and light. Every property for sale or rent has to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) attached.

All well and good for your bank balance, but have you ever thought that the home you are living in could be bad for your health, indeed it could be killing you?

Increasingly, we are hearing about air pollution, especially that which is caused by diesel fumes, and the effect that is having on people’s health. In London alone, tens of thousands of people die each year, before their time, because of the effects of air pollution. And the closer you live to the centre of a big city or town, the closer you are to an airport, the closer you are to a main road and the busier that road is, the worse the impacts are.

The mad thing is that it was not long ago that diesel vehicles were being encouraged by the government as they gave off less CO2. Amazingly, no one seemed to realise, (or care) that diesel engines gave off more dangerous, small particulates than other engines, and it is these have serious implications for health.

I’m glad to see that London Mayor Sadiq Khan is making a lot of noise about this – and is putting in measures to warn about and to cut air pollution. This is a welcome change from Boris Johnson, whose approach was far too hands off and pro -vehicle.

So at last, the clamour for clean air is growing as evidence mounts about the damage polluted air is having on the health of the nation. This clamour really came to the fore in January 2017, when dry, cold, polluted air hung over England and Wales for over 3 weeks, with the situation in London being particularity bad.

(I have always been amazed that the air pollution issue does not get more prominence in the media. And I have always pitied people who have to live right by main roads and busy junctions. I certainly never would. But a recent change in my own health has made me even more aware of the issue – see note*).

As the demand for action on air pollution grows and the awareness that being within 50 or 100 metres of a busy road or junction can be especially injurious to health, I predict that within a few years, folks advertising properties for rent or to buy will start to show if their property is a safe distance, (at least 200 metres) from a main road). Relative safety in pollution terms will become a selling point. (Try finding an advert on Rightmove that shows this as a feature today and you will look in vain. But I am sure this will change).

In due course, there may even be legislation to force vendors and landlords to show local average air quality information, though don’t bank on it, because there are too many parties with too much to lose.

Air Pollution in London – a Case in Point: Lewisham

Take my old patch in Lewisham.

Here, the big house builders are still erecting their monstrous tower blocks right on the busy road junctions and in the middle of clogged roundabouts and road systems. Can you see the government, (who are so in bed with the big builders), wanting to queer their pitch (and scupper demand for much needed housing) by forcing vendors like them to make the dangers of buying or renting in such places clear?  Neither can I!

Luckily I now live in a less polluted area. I’m glad I moved. I’m lucky I have the choice.

Note 1. Personal Story: Anyone experiencing problems with asthma or related lung problems , or who has a loved one who is, should contact AsthmaUK, the charity, who have been fantastic for me. I cannot recommend them enough. Their website has lots of useful info.

Note 2. Daily London air pollution reading are available from Kings College London. You can sign up for a daily pollution forecast to be sent to your email address.

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