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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 18 June 2008

Associate Professor Simon Kingham, from the University of Canterbury, discusses how the amount and type of air pollution you are exposed to depends on where you live, what sort of heating is used in your house and how you get to school or work. A team of researchers collects data about air quality to calculate the pollution exposure of people.


We all have different lifestyles, and we live in different places, and we do different things. And we know that all those things result in different levels of exposure, pollution, air pollution that we actually breathe in. And we refer to a thing called pollution exposure, so it’s the quality of the air around us. So for instance, if we live on a busy main road, we will be breathing in more pollution than someone who lives 100 yards from a main road. If we travel by bus, we are exposed to different levels of pollution to someone who travels by car, or someone who travels by bike. Now, most people don't realise that, actually, if you travel by car, you are probably exposed to more pollution than a cyclist – most people think it’s the other way round, but for a number of reasons, it’s probably not. If you live in a home where you have a gas cooker, you are going to be exposed to different levels, higher levels of some pollutants then people who have an electric cooker. If you have a wood burner in your home, there is a chance that particulate levels will be worse than someone who has an electric heater. So there is a whole range of things that can affect our own individual pollution exposure, and so what we do for that is we try and do monitoring, we try and collect values of pollution in different micro environments.

Sue Tyler
Larry McCombs