We focus on four complex health issues more prevalent in urban areas
With the Social Progress Imperative, we've developed the first neighbourhood level, health-focused social progress index of its kind.
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Health effects of air pollution
We’ve been working with the Centre for Low Emission Construction (CLEC) to find ways to reduce air pollution from construction sites.
Air pollution has devastating effects on people’s health. It causes 36,000 premature deaths in the UK every year, approximately 4,000 of those in London.
Not only is air pollution a public health crisis, it’s a social justice issue. Again and again, research shows that it’s the least well off, as well as those from minoritised ethnicities, who are most affected by poor air quality.
Interventions to date have mostly focused on traffic – the biggest source of air pollution – but construction is a major source of air pollution in cities. In London, for example, construction contributes approximately 30% to particulate matter (PM10). That means there’s an opportunity for businesses and government to improve air quality in around construction sites.
We’ve explored what changes can and should be made in a new report in partnership with the Centre for Low Emission Construction (CLEC).
We surveyed people working in the industry – including regulators, suppliers, and developers – so we can better understand attitudes toward air pollution and, ultimately, develop practical recommendations to improve air quality.
Crucially, while other major sources of air pollution like transport have decreased polluting emissions due to policies like ultra-low emissions zones, the construction industry has increased its overall share of emissions in recent decades.
Graph that shows the increasing constribution from the construction industry to the total amount of Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) to UK emissions from 1994-2018. PM10 is the fraction of particulate matter where particles are less than 10 micrometres in diameter. As of 2018, the construction industry contributed approximately 19% of all PM10 emissions in the UK.
People who work on construction sites, as well as people living nearby, are most at risk from being exposed to the highest concentrations of emissions from sites.
Our research with CLEC has led to a series of recommendations for future work that will seek to improve air quality in and around sites.
We recommend three approaches for reducing air pollution emissions from construction:
What’s clear is that reducing polluting emissions from construction sites is vital for people’s health across the UK, and particularly in cities. Effective action can be taken to reduce the sector’s air pollution emissions, but these efforts must be underpinned by regulations to encourage long-term change.
Contact Ben Pearce, Portfolio Manager
An opinion piece from our partner, the Centre for Low Emission Construction.
With Centre for Low Emission Construction (CLEC)