Air Pollution arguably represents one of the greatest environmental risks to public health today. A common misconception is that urban communities are unique in experiencing such affects.
Whilst built-up areas tend to suffer, the risks are certainly not exclusive to towns and cities, particularly when you consider the major road infrastructure which dissects and borders many rural communities. Every year in the UK, an estimated 40,000 people die from illnesses exacerbated by the effects of air pollution.
In a contemporary twist, this year we have seen that just a small rise in air pollution is believed to have accelerated covid-19 cases in some areas, particularly affecting those with asthmatic or other underlying conditions. King’s College London scientists have also found teenagers living around sources of pollution were more than twice as likely to have depression, compared to those in areas where the air is relatively clean.
The British Heart Foundation has branded air pollution “a public health emergency”.
Recently, the watershed legal judgement of Ella Kissi-Debrah’s cause-of-death being partly attributed to air pollution was a wake-up call for central and local government to take faster, stronger decisions over air quality management.
The burgeoning public awareness, propagated by strong media coverage in recent years, means that increasingly homebuyers are considering local air pollution levels when making decisions around a move. In addition to this, as we are spending much more time at home, the enjoyment of our gardens and outdoor spaces is becoming all the more important, making it a key deciding factor when purchasing a property. In some cases, air quality ratings are now even being displayed on property portal listings.
As a result, many conveyancers and legal professionals are acting accordingly and choosing to highlight air quality as a factor which could impact upon their client’s quiet enjoyment of the home. Although not currently a mandated search element, a baseline understanding of air quality at a local level is increasingly recognised as equal to other environmental issues such as flood risk and land contamination, when buying a home.
It is precisely for these important reasons that we took the pioneering decision to add air quality data to our environmental search reports in early 2018. Working in close partnership with Earthsense, we incorporated the MappAir dataset into all combined residential and commercial reports, including the FCI Premium Residential, FCI Retail and FCI Commercial.
This provides homebuyers with an indication of annual mean air pollution, based on levels of PM2.5 particulate matter and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) to a resolution of 100 metres. The finest particulate matter (PM2.5) can have a detrimental effect to heart health, exacerbating existing conditions and increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
FCI remains the sole environmental search provider to offer information on air quality as standard, with coverage available on a national basis through Earthsense’s network of sensors and unique data insight. The national network provides far greater insight than reliance solely on whether or not a property lies within a Local Authority Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), which tend to be isolated areas in the centres of cities and towns, and do not provide the full picture.
The addition of air quality data to our search reports was driven by a desire to enable a homebuyer to make fully-informed decisions about their future. Having sight of the data and expertise enables them to consider their options and, whether in an urban or countryside setting, to enter into a transaction with their eyes wide open.
Aside from the potential physical and mental impacts, the future may also see the financial impacts of poor air quality should the value of an asset falter if air quality deteriorates further and particularly if the current trajectory of concern and awareness leads towards mainstream consideration for homebuyers, valuers and lenders when assessing the desirability and value of a home.
This client-centred, peace-of-mind approach supports our commitment to the CoPSO Search Code, as well as our regulation by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), maintaining compliance and acting with integrity to deliver the best possible customer care we can.
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To take advantage of a trial free order of your first environmental report, please complete the enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We will need to take more details of the property or site and ask some more questions about your firm and the transaction.