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Estate agents urged to tell buyers about air pollution

pollution london skyline Image copyright Getty Images

Estate agents have been urged to automatically disclose air pollution figures to home buyers.

The industry trade body said providing this information should now be standard practice.

"Air quality is now public information, and it will never not be again," said Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark.

His comments came as a new website was launched which details air pollution by postcode.

The site, called addresspollution.org, uses data from King's College London to give the level of nitrogen dioxide.

House price hit?

The website has been created by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI), a not-for-profit campaign, the Times newspaper reports.

The site is currently limited to properties in London. It shows the concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the air and compares it to the World Health Organization's annual legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre. Long term exposure to high concentrations of the gas have been linked to early deaths.

Humphrey Milles, its founder, said he thinks it could have an impact on where new homes are built, and that data such as this should be used to determine where schools and homes for the elderly are built.

"The data shows this is isn't just something that you are exposed to on the road, this pollution is in the air in our homes," he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nitrogen dioxide is created when petrol and diesel is burnt

Mr Hayward conceded that the move would be extra work for agencies and would come on top of a slew of extra information sellers must provide, such as energy efficiency data.

"It may not be popular because it's an additional piece of information," he told the BBC, especially at a time when the number of sales have fallen, hitting agencies' revenues. But he said agents may as well start now before they are forced to by law.

He also said that, like energy efficiency information, it may be ignored by some buyers who are led more by their gut than data.

"No-one says I won't buy that house with the roses around the door because of a poor energy rating."

But more and more people are interested in air quality when it comes to choosing where to live, said Henry Pryor, a buying agent of 33 years.

He says he has included pollution data in his reports for clients for the last five years.

Electric car improvement

People interested in air quality probably won't ask for discounts, but instead shun a particular area, which may depress prices, he said.

"It's not going to be a negotiating tool, it's going to be an informative tool."

Air quality may improve as more vehicles become electric.

The number of electric car models available to consumers in Europe is expected to triple by 2021, the European Federation for Transport and Environment said in July.

This shift could help areas with high pollution, said Mr Pryor.

His clients in London often look to the city's congestion charge zone for cleaner air, he said, as well as homes near the city's parks.

"More and more people are interested in what they are breathing," he said.

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