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Ultrafine particles around Schiphol

Hazardous ultrafine particles around Schiphol

The impact of aviation on air quality is becoming increasingly clear. A recent study by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) shows, that residents of municipalities around Schiphol have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than elsewhere in the Netherlands.

The culprit: ultrafine particles from aircraft. There is also evidence that emissions of these tiny dust particles have adverse effects on pregnant women and the development of unborn children. According to researchers, there is ‘indicative evidence’ of a connection between deaths from cardiac arrhythmias and high concentrations of ultrafine particles. The research was conducted in a 50-kilometre radius around Schiphol Airport. Researchers also found evidence that, amongst other things, the risk of preterm birth is higher around Schiphol Airport. A connection between fine dust concentration and congenital malformations is ‘considered likely’.


These are confronting results. That the place where you live, or work, has so many invisible particles in the air that might be life-threatening. The research is a follow-up to an RIVM study three years ago. That showed that children living in the area suffer more acute respiratory complaints, such as shortness of breath and wheezing. People in that environment with COPD and asthma also experience problems.

Lung damage in children

From his expertise, lung specialist Arent Jan Michels takes a critical look at the impact on children: “Both general practitioners and lung specialists advocate clean air near young children. From the womb to the seventh birthday is the most critical phase. Girls develop physically until 18, and boys until 21. That is something to consider carefully.

Since children develop lung damage from ambient air, there lies an important seed. Studies show the negative impact of ambient air on the development of asthma. Polluted air, indoors or outdoors, causes damage during lung development, which is a life-long burden. When it comes to growing up healthy, consideration of air quality is an important factor.”

Ultrafine particles are tiny particles of particulate matter in the air (smaller than 0,1 micrometres). You cannot see or smell them. Through your lungs, they can penetrate deeper into your body, and once in your body, they spread easily.

Clean Air Act

Medical science has caught on to the impact of air quality on our health. Arent Jan Michels: “Previously, air pollution was hardly considered in our view of health. Things are different now, with both general practitioners and pulmonologists endorsing the need for clean air. In California, they were aware of this earlier on. There the Clean Air Act requires the government to regulate six common pollutants. These include particulate matter, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulphur, nitrogen, and lead. If we regulate the above substances properly, we will go a long way in the right direction.”

Healthy air at home

If you live in a region with unhealthy outside air, the air quality indoors requires extra care. The first step to a healthy indoor climate is monitoring the CO2 values in a room. A CO2 meter measures the number of carbon dioxide in the air, expressed in PPM (parts per million). Based on the CO2 values in a room, action can be taken. A value of 800 or higher requires better ventilation in the room. At a PPM of 1200 and above, health problems arise. Measure = to know.

If you use mechanical ventilation, carefully check which filters you need. There is a direct connection between the air quality in a room and what the situation is like outside. You bring that air indoors to ventilate. Our filters capture particles of various sizes and are divided into different classes, depending on the degree and presence of particulate matter in the environment. We are happy to help you make the right choice to have and maintain a healthy climate at home or work.

Written by Mirjam
Customer Sales Support at TOPS Luchtfilters

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Want to know more about this topic? Then also read our blog about particulate matter!