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Pioneering new facility will deliver world-leading air quality research in Yorkshire

Posted on 6 March 2023

Researchers at the University of York have secured funding to run a pioneering £1.2 million three-year project that will become a world-leading facility for the study of indoor air quality – shaping how the homes of the future are built.

The project INTERIORS is being led by Nic Carlsaw, Professor of Indoor Air Chemistry

Scientists will measure how everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning and even DIY affect the quality of the air we breathe at home.

The project includes a £500,000 facility called INTERIORS (INTERdisciplinary Facility for IndOoR Air Quality ReSearch), which will see the construction of a house on Campus East, with work starting this spring and the high-tech facility becoming fully operational by 2026.

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It is being led by Nic Carlsaw, Professor of Indoor Air Chemistry, who secured funding from the Wolfson Foundation, with further support from the University of York. It will put the University’s work at the forefront of indoor air quality research globally.

The INTERIORS facility will be designed as a semi-detached house. One side of the house will be energy efficient and modern, the other side will be more typical of UK buildings from the 1950s-1960s.

An integrated lab between the two buildings will monitor the air quality in each side of the house as identical activities are carried out under these different ventilation and build conditions. The facility will also have a flexible design so the impact of things like internal furnishings on indoor air quality can also be examined.


Professor Carslaw said: “It is so exciting to build this world-class facility right here in Yorkshire because this research will shape the future of air quality in homes right around the world.

“The Wolfson INTERIORS Facility will allow us to explore indoor air quality in much more detail, and under more realistic conditions, than ever before.

“Together with the data we collect from people’s homes as part of the parallel INGENIOUS project, we will be in a strong position to identify what drives air pollution in homes and, more importantly, how we then provide solutions.”


The facility’s research will enable academics to quantify how indoor air pollutants accumulate and interact indoors, examining exactly how people, and buildings and their contents, contribute to this pollution. Researchers will use the facility to provide solutions for improving indoor air quality in the homes of the future and facilitate improved building design.

Professor Carslaw added: This research has never been more important. The INTERIORS facility will deliver evidence-based recommendations to support future policy in areas such as building infrastructure, furnishing materials and consumer products. It will be part of an international paradigm shift for indoor air quality research. The University of York is the ideal location given the modelling and measurement expertise in indoor and outdoor air quality that already exists here. We can’t wait to get started.” 


Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said: “This new facility focussed on identifying and understanding the sources of indoor air pollution will complement the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories set up at the University of York a decade ago to study how gases and pollutants behave in the outdoor environment. The University has impressive expertise in this area, and we are delighted to be supporting this innovative laboratory. 

“The work should lead, in time, to improvements in how homes and everyday objects are designed, made and used, and ultimately to improvements in people’s health and well-being. We are delighted to be continuing our longstanding partnership with the University of York.”

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