Gas Boilers and NOx: The lesser-known pollutant

Air pollution is an ever-growing concern, both on a global scale and nationally. The main contributors people often associate with air pollution and harmful emissions are vehicles and factories. Whilst these factors do contribute significantly to pollution levels, people are overlooking a significant contributor to air pollution that is present in our homes.

Gas boilers.

The problems surrounding gas boilers and the pollution that comes from them is well documented. However, people still seem to overlook significance of their role in emission levels. Air pollution from gas boilers is a huge problem, and as the government continues to set carbon targets it is imperative that we find ways to make the switch from outdated systems to greener ones soon. 

Effects of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)

Gas boilers are a major source of local pollution, accounting for 21% of the total Nitrogen oxide emissions across Greater London. This is a significant proportion of pollution that cannot be ignored. Exposure to Nitrogen oxides has serious health implications, namely:

  • Lung irritation

  • Decreased lung function

  • Increased chance of respiratory infections.

The presence of NOx in our atmosphere also has a significant atmospheric affect; NOx is a precursor to the formation of Ozone and acid rain, and when deposited into fresh water and land it harms sensitive biodiversity. NOx pollution presents a huge problem for the government and the public. Nitrogen oxide levels in the UK still remain above legal and safe limits, despite the UK government being sanctioned by the European Court of Justice.

What can be done?

The government has been actively pushing targets and mandates in order to combat our growing air pollution crisis. Their push for ‘Net-Zero Carbon’ by 2050 is the most popular example of this, and mandates such as the Future Homes Standard have been introduced in order for us to be able to reach these targets sooner.

The focus of the Future Homes Standard is eradicating gas boilers in newly-built homes by 2025. This particular mandate exemplifies the government’s awareness of the harmful pollution that comes from using gas combustion heating in our homes. However, many homeowners are still reluctant to make the switch to greener home heating options. One researcher has stated that she thinks homeowners are reluctant to change from gas boilers due to a lack of awareness. Many homeowners are unaware of the health implications gas boilers contribute to; there is overall less awareness or harmful pollutants coming from within our homes.

Air pollution from gas boilers doesn’t just harm our health – it also has drastic implications for the health of our environment too. The harmful emissions released by gas boilers is contributing massively to global warming and climate damage. Fossil fuel heating accounts for around 15% of the UK’s greenhouse emissions, and this number can easily be reduced through simply switching our heating to greener alternatives.

The route to Net Zero Carbon has never been clearer; we must act now if we want to begin reversing the damage done to our environment by harmful gas emissions. By making the switch to cleaner home heating solutions, we can begin the journey on the road to net zero carbon and a healthier future for the planet and for us.