For a long time, it’s been understood that air pollution can have all sorts of incredibly detrimental effects on public health – such as by increasing the extent of cardiovascular disease among the general population, in addition to even more serious concerns.

Much of the emphasis on tackling air pollution has rightly been placed on limiting the use of fossil fuels in favour of green alternatives, in addition to monitoring the automotive industry in order to ensure that certain harmful additives of fuel – such as lead – are no longer present.

In recent times, there has also been increasing awareness in certain circles about the potential harmful impacts of air pollution within homes, as research has revealed that common household appliances frequently release toxic compounds into the air. When combined with other irritants and pollutants commonly found within homes – such as pet dander and mould spores – the effect can be a home environment which is very detrimental to individual health.

What most people don’t realise, however, is that there is research to suggest that dirt and grime on the outside of your home may contribute significantly to air pollution in your immediate environment, and in society at large, when that grime reacts with sunlight.

Worrying findings from the University of Toronto

A 2015 study from the University of Toronto investigated the question of whether urban grime was “inert,” or whether it actually continued to exhibit active chemical processes that could have a detrimental effect.

For a long time, most people have assumed that urban grime was primarily an eyesore, but that it was not otherwise a significant factor in things like air pollution.

According to the findings of this research, however, the reality is much more concerning.

In the words of James Donaldson, a University of Toronto chemistry professor associated with the study:

“The current understanding of urban air pollution does not include the recycling of nitrogen oxides and potentially other compounds from building surfaces… but based on our field studies in a real-world environment, this is happening. We don’t know yet to what extent this is occurring, but it may be quite a significant, and unaccounted for, contributor to air pollution in cities.”

According to Donaldson, urban grime contains thousands of chemical compounds that may be volatile, and evidence suggests that these may react with sunlight to produce ozone, the major constituent element of smog, among other things.

A new perspective on environmental awareness

The question of environmental awareness has traditionally been viewed as a matter of reducing household waste and individual carbon footprints, and pursuing adequate industry regulation.

While these things are as valid as ever, however, findings like those listed above give a new perspective on environmental awareness. Specifically, they indicate that maintaining a clean and visually appealing home, inside and out, may actually be a significant factor in doing your part for the environment and for public health.

Services such as Token Cleaning can help you to get on top of the issue of a grimy and potentially harmful home exterior, courtesy of their brick and stone cleaning services — which include pressure washing, steam cleaning, grit blasting, and wet blasting, in order to ensure that your building is as clean as possible at the end of the process.

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