HOMES, schools, workplaces and vehicles around Bolton are choked with five times more lethal pollution than the air outside them, a leading clean air scientist has warned.

Richard Greenwood, founder of the Bolton-based and world-leading clean air technology company, Radic8, has cautioned that while pollution on the region’s roads has captured the headlines, as we have insulated our buildings to make them more energy efficient, we have also trapped in the polluted air.

These rising pollution levels and increased exposure are having devastating consequences ­— causing illness and deaths, cutting productivity and destroying the planet ­— he added.

Mr Greenwood said: “Indoor air is on average three to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and we spend 90 per cent of our time indoors, this is more than ever before.

“In order to conserve energy, we have sealed up our buildings which means the air pollution can not escape. Asthma and other respiratory conditions are on the rise and they are directly related to air pollution.”

Alarmingly Mr Greenwood asserts that the damage done by pollution is already “irreversible”, and as the world’s population grows more harm is inevitable, unless people make critical behavioural changes.

Such efforts, and centralised measures to slash pollution levels, he argues, will lead to huge benefits for public health, for the environment and for businesses.

Mr Greenwood said: “We need to take positive steps because we are creating health problems for the general public.

“The simple fact is that we are going to have to deal with air pollution, and there are simple steps that most people can take without incurring too much cost.”

He added: “A lot of people don’t realise that one of the best things they can do to cut pollution is to go vegetarian. Consuming meat equals an awful lot of air pollution.

“It’s about educating people about changing certain habits, giving people options for shopping choices, and telling them that if we don’t change our future generations are going to suffer.”

Last month a wave of radical proposals were made to tackle Greater Manchester pollution by creating a Clean Air Zone.

If implemented the proposals could see the most polluting vehicles, including buses, HGVs, vans and taxis, charged up to £100 per day to drive on Bolton’s streets. Private cars will not be affected however.

These plans have been welcomed by Mr Greenwood, who said that efforts should be focussed on swapping to electric vehicles, or even switching back to petrol engines in the short term, as essential steps to tackling pollution.

He also called on the Government to look to technological solutions rather than taxation, such as the Clean Air Zone penalty, as the basis of fighting pollution.

He said: “I think one solution could be not just increasing taxes but trying to introduce technology that reduces emissions. Increasing taxes is just going to cost more.

“We need to go electric to solve the problem but people can’t just change over night. It’s a slow process. But if technologies can be implemented to counteract the problem right now, it should be a two pronged approach.”

He similarly understands why private cars have been left off the Clean Air Zone proposals, but believes it is only a matter of time before similar legislation will be extended to cover them.

Consequently he has called on politicians to inform the public early to give them time to make changes.

He said: “I think it’s right to exclude cars, but people also need to be given a heads up and told this is the first step and the next step is cars so that they can plan for the future.

“People need to know that if they go for a diesel car, for example, then their tax will increase.”

Further Mr Greenwood explained that cleaning up pollution in our workplaces can reap massive benefits for employers ­— spotlighting that a clean air environment can boost productivity by 16 percent, according to an EPA report.

This can be further augmented by virus killing technology, which can cut staff sickness rates by 30 per cent, he said.

Radic8 is a global leader in clean air technology manufacture and development based in Church Road, Smithills.

The company creates devices which utilise NASA-developed technologies to covert pollutants back to their original chemical components of carbon dioxide and water, and neutralise them.

In recent years the company has won numerous awards and accolades, including being named the Top Innovation Company 2018 by the US Infection Prevention Strategy.

It is also the only technology featured in the London Mayor's handbook for dealing with air pollution in schools, and the firm is currently working with the mayor's office on tackling pollution in nurseries.

Mr Greenwood said: "Being a clean air company from Bolton is something that we are really proud of. This can happen anywhere but for us Bolton is a great place to be working from."