We focus on four complex health issues more prevalent in urban areas
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Health effects of air pollution
Quantifying the health and economic impacts of NO2 and PM2.5
Extensive evidence has demonstrated that short-term and long-term exposure to air pollution has an adverse effect on people’s health. Short-term exposure to air pollutants has been linked to increased hospitalisations and exacerbations in diseases including, for example, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma. Long-term exposure to air pollutants is related to the development of diseases including coronary heart disease (CHD), lung cancer and stroke. The main pollutants that impact health are particulate matter (PM) and Nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
This study uses a mathematical model to quantify the health and economic impacts of both NO2 and PM2.5 under different scenarios. With this modelling of the health impact of air pollution in Lambeth and Southwark, the findings built on the existing body of knowledge on this topic, including Public Health England’s ‘Estimation of costs to the NHS and social care due to the health impacts of air pollution’ (2018); Walton et al. (2019) ‘Health impact assessment of air pollution on asthma in London’; and Webber et al. (2020) ‘Modelling the long-term health impacts of changing exposure to NO2 and PM2.5 in London’.
Air pollution has an adverse effect on people’s health, both in the long- and short-term. We commissioned Health Lumen to quantify the impact of air pollution on the health of the populations of the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. In these areas, the majority of air pollution comes from road traffic, but also from heating and construction emissions.
A number of policies have been put in place London-wide to reduce air pollution emissions and therefore prevent related impacts (for example ULEZ and BreatheLondon), as well as locally in Lambeth and Southwark. The findings of this study build on the existing body of knowledge on this topic by quantifying the impact of specific scenarios on air-pollution related health burden.
This study modelling long-term health impacts estimated these impacts (excluding disease exacerbations) of exposure to air pollution in Lambeth and Southwark from 2020 to 2024. Between 2020 and 2024, the total number of new disease cases attributable to NO2 and PM2.5 in Lambeth for diseases with an established evidence base is estimated to be 2,125. If including diseases with an emerging evidence base, this would rise to 4,730 cases. In Southwark in this same time period, the estimated new number of diseases attributable to NO2 and PM2.5 is 1,620 among diseases in the established evidence base, and 5,130 new cases when combined with emerging evidence.
Key findings from this study include:
 This based on the Royal College of Nursing’s 2018 calculation of £33,384 average annual pay for nurses.
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Kate Langford reflects on the impact, learnings and opportunities for our health effects of air pollution programme created by COVID-19.
A report from our community research into people's experiences of air pollution in Lambeth and Southwark
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