As we all know, there are lots of factors to consider when choosing your perfect property. Whether it’s the prospective commute to work, the schools in the surrounding area or the size of the garden, finding the right property means something different to everyone. However, in recent years there seems to be one factor rising through the ranks: the air quality of the area and the property itself.
Yes, that’s right – the advent of the ‘air pollution postcode checker’ is sending ripples through house-hunting, real estate and property-finding communities alike. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxide are just some of the harmful gases which can contribute to air pollution, affecting the environment and public health. Simply put, the growing problem of air pollution in major cities is causing many people to prioritise the quality and cleanliness of the air in the city or town they live in.
What is an air pollution postcode checker?
Though it can take several different forms, the basic principle of an air pollution postcode checker means that prospective buyers can use data on air quality to inform their decision about whether or not to go ahead with a property. Two of the most widely-reported of these are the BBC’s Pollution Postcode Checker or addresspollution.org, both websites in which a postcode can be entered to find data on the air pollution levels in the immediate surrounding area.
Let’s examine Address Pollution as an example. Though primarily London-based at present, the website aims to incorporate all areas around the UK and provide a nation-wide service. Simply inputting the postcode of the property brings forward an air quality report, based on data collated by King’s College London. The report rates the property on a scale of 1-5 in ascending order of harmful pollution levels, with 1 indicating a generally clean environment with a very low level of pollution (specifically a low presence of Nitrogen Dioxide, or N02), and a minimal chance of exceeding annual legal limits.
A medium rating of 2 or 3 would indicate a likely chance of N02 levels exceeding legal limits, worsening at times of busy traffic, while a rating of 4 or 5 means the property’s surrounding area greatly exceeds the legal limit of N02 in the air. Postcodes of many properties in central London, for instance, provide a rating of 5 on the air quality scale, and an annual N02 value of 60-65 micrograms per cubic metre. Shockingly, the World Health Organization’s annual legal limit is 40mcg/m3.
Why do high pollution levels matter?
We all know that pollution in our atmosphere can cause a number of environmental problems for the planet and become a contributor towards global warming, by creating a greenhouse effect and trapping sunlight and solar radiation. But what are the health effects of higher pollution levels?
High levels of air pollution can cause enormous detriments to public health. Indeed, the seriousness of air pollution cannot be overstated: the World Health Organisation refer to air pollution as ‘a major cause of death and disease annually’, citing it as responsible for 29% of all lung cancer cases worldwide and 43% of chronic pulmonary obstructive disease cases (COPD). Other common health effects of living in a region of poor air quality include reduced lung function, aggravated asthma and respiratory infections in people of all ages, as well as impacts on newborn health and size after maternal exposure during pregnancy.
This all sounds scary, but the good news is that free access to air quality reports means that you can assess the quality of a home before committing to a purchase in a badly-rated area.
What does this mean for property finding?
There are two main effects of a service providing air quality reports for house-hunters. The first of these, of course, is an increased awareness for the buyer about the air quality of their prospective home, influencing their decision to buy the property. Particularly for families with young children or elderly members, this information could be a major factor in your choice of property.
The second influence of this air quality postcode checker in property finding is a potential reduction in the sale price of a home. This service reveals that highly-sought after and expensive areas of London, such as Chelsea, Notting Hill and Regent’s Park, where houses regularly cost upwards of several million, present air quality ratings which greatly exceed legal limits. This hidden cost to health, now plain to see, may have a strong impact on property prices in highly polluted areas. Certainly, leading experts think that pollution information will have a strong impact on property prices. The Central Office of Public Interest (or COPI), the brains behind the site in partnership with Kings’ College London, predict a potential plummet of as much as 20% off the price of houses which have unacceptable pollution levels.
How can I find the cleanest air in the UK?
As this information gains public attention, property finding services and property buying agents are turning to pollution data to find the best properties for their clients. Property buying agents are able to use this information in conjunction with the clients’ needs, to ensure the properties they find meet the required legal standards for air cleanliness.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recommend that the regions which are the least polluted typically tend to be open spaces or coastal regions. Speak to one of our local property buying experts, and find a home where you can enjoy the fresh seaside air of a region like Devon, or the rolling hills of Cumbria, which topped a clean air survey in 2018.
Engaging the services of a property agent means that they can obtain environmental data about the air quality of an area or property and compare it against your requirements, taking the hassle out of finding you the cleanest, greenest property possible. To speak to one of our regional property buying agents and arrange a meeting, contact us today or call 0330 223 6339.