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Care homes should be sited near trees to protect residents’ lungs

According to new research from the University of Surrey care homes should be built as far from heavy traffic as possible to shield residents from the dangers of air pollution.

Experts from the Impact on Urban Health, a not-for-profit organisation that works to make communities healthier places to live, have claimed that older people are disproportionately affected by air pollution with spikes in particulate matter associated with increased strokes and hospitalisation. With this in mind, a new study from the University of Surrey highlights the importance of constructing care homes near tress and away from busy roads.

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‘Older adults in care settings can be especially vulnerable to poor quality air. Our study confirms that building care homes next to busy roads without adequate tree planting can significantly increase their exposure to deadly fine particle pollution,’ Professor Prashant Kumar, director of Surrye’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE), said. ‘We hope planners will be able to use our findings to make sure care homes are built in safer locations – striking the right balance between the convenience of urban living and better air quality.’

To conduct the research, experts studied three care homes in Nanjing, China. They measured fine particle pollution (PM2.5) at various locations in and around the care homes. From this, they found the amount of pollution inside the care home decreased exponentially, the further it was from the road.

Commenting on the study, Huaiwen Wu, a researcher at GCARE, said: ‘Our study gives so many useful insights into where to build new care homes.

‘For instance, there was a significant relationship between outdoor and indoor pollution. This tells us that bedrooms should be kept on the far side of the building where possible.’

Shi-Jie Cao, visiting professor at GCARE, added: ‘We also saw how pollution was highest during rush hour. Concentrations were higher during spells of lighter winds, and during colder seasons when more people are heating their homes. 

‘As such, care homes near busy roads could keep their windows closed more during those periods – then open them afterwards to mitigate the accumulation of emissions.’

The results of the study, which were published on 12th June, can be found in full in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Image: Hopestar21

More on this topic:

Air pollution could contribute to dementia and brain ill-health, researchers claim

Great Ormond Street to examine indoor air pollution before diagnosing illnesses

Emily Whitehouse
Writer and journalist for Newstart Magazine, Social Care Today and Air Quality News.

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