Sarah Vine article on UK today (Daily Mail 30.08.23)

I remember before moving to France, my daughter was in a primary school a good mile or more from our house and we used to walk there and back every day (twice for me). Each morning when I got home I would absolutely stink of petrol and diesel fumes from all the traffic on the road that I would have to shower as it clung so you can imagine if just the smell did that, what the particles were doing that we breathed in. It was in a valley where four main roads converged for traffic going for the M40 or the A40 so very busy early morning. Afternoons were not smelly.

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Air pollution has been cited as cause of asthma attacks that have lead to death on death certificates. Of course I know, being asthmatic myself, that there are other triggers, but air pollution by itself, just like cat fur, can initiate an asthma attack that can lead to death.

Jim has other memories of Ladbroke Grove, mainly due to being in a railway carriage sliding along on its side at a rate of knots and everything falling on top of him.

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Whilst sorry to hear of anyones asthma issues, there are things about the argument that bother me.
Since the 70’s air pollution has been steadily reducing, down around 40% on what it was. However rates of asthma have been steadily increasing along with other allergies.
Thats data from UK Emissions of Air Pollutants 1970 to 2006.

I believe the reactions and allergies are down to other causes and particularly our own ability to fight off these issues. Same with cancer rates and heart disease. Low fat foods pushed upon us in the misgiven idea they were hethier but the data doesnt lie, people are getting more obese and heart disease is increasing along with other health issues. Doesnt add up.


I didn’t have asthma until I was 50.
It started after a particularly bad chest infection.

Modern way of life, more food additives, more traffic and smaller respirable particles

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Wouldn’t disagree.
There was so much more air pollution around in the 1960s and far less processed food.
Dont recall any of my school pals having allergies like we see today, other than to teachers and homework.

The report I mentioned took that into account but the pollution has dropped by 40% on average (many pollutants taken into account) that study ended in 2006 and the original LEZ started in 2008.

Perhaps we needed the pollution to allow us to build up natural resistance. A bit like being given covid in a jab. :thinking:

I had bad hay fever (couldn’t wash with soap in the morning, only clear water) and mild asthma as a child but grew out of both in my teens.

In 1966 I had a life threatening attack overnight but survived and was fine in the morning. 50 years later I had a similar one in the middle of the night, so bad that I abandonned the journey I was due to do next day and headed for home with the thought to find a hospital on the way. It gradually got better and when I arrived home, was fine.

I had the doctor give me a puffer. It has never been used. There is no plausible explanation.

I think as well as ultra-processed food, fitted carpets and draught-excluding houses full of nasty foams etc have a lot to do with allergies.

But many of those are very very recent and not applicable to a vast number of homes.
At a trade show I attended containg lots of air quality monitoring equipment they put down the carpets and put up the stands. Companies had to switch off their equipment sensors as they topped out on VOC’s and could have been damaged. So in that point its quite possibly something we could face in the future. Mechanical ventilation with carbon filters may remove many of these contaminents

But what is applicable to a vast number of homes is the following: air fresheners, scented cleaning products (bathroom/kitchen/floor/carpet), washing up liquids, detergents (and the seriously awful one) fabric softeners / clothes perfume boosts, oven/BBQ cleaners, soaps/shampoos/shower gels, insecticides, and on and on and on.
Most people live in a soup of respiratory irritants.


I agree Sue, some take your breath away even when you are not asthmatic.
I carried out some tests on wood burners with my test meter. No where near the levels of harm the newspaper reported. Dont know how they were doing there tests but I tried mine an two friends. Average level of PM2.5 was 9 parts per m3 of air. Even when I had a bit of charcoal that fell out and I scooped it back in so the door was open much longer than a standard add a couple of logs it hit 30 parts per m3 but dropped after 15 mins or so.

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This is what one might expect, because the stove is drawing air from the room, so should not be releasing particles but rather pulling them in.

Yes to a degree, its the action of opening the door that momentarily haults the updraft, especially if opened too quickly. I tried also with friends all methods of opening to give an idea and in the average 7m x 7m x 2.4m room levels did not get to any worrysome levels.

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We don’t bother with most of those, I use stuff from the biocoop for clothes and dishes and usually homemade soap. A few years ago I stupidly cleaned a shower with some supermarket product and did myself no good at all, wheezed for 3 or 4 days, so now we are Spartan, bicarb and vinegar etc. I eschewed all the laundry additives because I have children with childhood atopic eczema. The oven does pyrolyse.


Ii bought some lenor fabric softener which I used on our sheets. I think it had been mixed incorrectly as it smelt really strong. My hubby had breathing difficulties and we had to change the bed at midnight! I usually buy the pouches and mix it up weakly and don’t put it with his clothes. I have gone natural on most other stuff but for some reason I love fabric softener :smiling_face: and it is the one thing I’ve struggled to give up,! When I had babes in nappies I used vinegar and tea tree EO but you never got residual smell! If I could I’d be happy to do that!

Similar here. I have allergies to certain common perfume ingredients, and also a skin condition that is aggravated by soap. All our kitchen/clothes/personal washing stuff has to be non perfume. I also only use soap products on my hair, and very sparingly. For my body I use a dermatological cream recommended by my dermatologist which actually cleans better than soap, and has the advantage of making your skin feel really soft and supple. I wish I’d started using it earlier as it really does make you skin feel wonderful.
Yes, pyrolitic ovens are wonderful, except in summer.

This is really difficult for me. When we go on holiday, we have to take sheets, towels and pillow cases in case the ones provided have been washed with a fabric conditioner. Within France it’s not really an issue as many places assume you may bring your own, but if we’re flying somewhere it can be a pain.

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We normally use non-bio washing powder, but haven’t noticed other issues from modern materials.