Douglas Booker

PhD student

Research Overview

Environmental Justice research in the UK focusing on the extent to which air pollution is equally –or unequally- distributed (distributional justice) has historically focused on outdoor air pollution. However, the average person spends around 90% of their time indoors, where levels can be more polluted. The combination of both the length of time spent inside, and the potential for higher concentrations means that personal exposure is greatest indoors.

This methodological fallacy is at the centre of environmental justice research, as it is failing to satisfactorily address spatial heterogeneities in air pollution concentrations, with a space of critical importance being that of the indoor environment. Notwithstanding the length of time, and potential for higher concentrations, this space is particularly important given that vulnerability is a large part of environmental justice claim making. The indoor environment represents a vulnerability that is largely unaccounted for, and is not fully understood. Indoor vulnerabilities could include households in poverty, security of tenure, and third-hand smoking. In understanding the “who gets what?“ of environmental justice, what happens indoors may be more important that outdoors, however, simply looking at indoor air quality is not enough.To understand indoor air quality, we must recognise that it is an extension of the outdoor atmosphere: air pollution does not stop at the front door. Research only looking indoors is not fully engaging with the dynamics of air pollution.

Building on the current research paradigm, this PhD will simultaneously monitor inside and outside, developing a holistic understanding of air pollution kinetics in urban environments, and its implications for distributive justice. This will allow a new lens to be put on previous environmental justice claims, seeing if the inferences for health consequences based on outdoor concentrations hold true, and to what extent the indoor environment either amplifies or negates this inference.