Health effects of air pollution

We want to address the health effects of poor air quality on people whose health is most impacted by air pollution: children, older people and people with heart and lung conditions

Why we focus on the health effects of air pollution

Air pollution is more prevalent in urban areas. And poor air quality doesn’t impact people in these areas equally; some people are more susceptible to its harmful effects than others. And we know that it intersects with other systemic causes of ill health. The health effects of air pollution are a product of both exposure and susceptibility.

Air pollution therefore has a disproportionate effect on the health and wellbeing of those most susceptible to it. This includes children under 15 (including during pregnancy), older people and people with heart and lung conditions.

We want to build evidence on what innovations work to reduce the health effects of air pollution equitably, particularly at a local level, on these groups.


Key facts about air pollution


of particulate matter in Lambeth and Southwark is caused by the built environment, including the heating of buildings and businesses, construction and traffic related to it

PM2.5 and PM10

Pollution from particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) across the whole of the boroughs is above WHO guidance


of residents in Lambeth and Southwark couldn’t think of solutions to air pollution when surveyed

How we are addressing the health effects of air pollution

Overview of our programme

We are running a ten-year programme to explore how poor air quality affects people’s health.

We’re in the ‘develop’ phase of our programme – where we are focusing on building evidence and refining the problem by funding projects that:

  • Create a compelling case for change by layering different types of data
  • Engage and amplify the voices of those most impacted by air quality
  • Reduce exposure to air pollution in environments where people spend their time
  • Work with businesses to find equitable solutions to reducing emissions

Partnering with others

In Lambeth and Southwark, the areas most impacted by air pollution are also areas which are impacted by other drivers of poor health (low income, unemployment, noise pollution). The people who are most impacted by poor air quality are often less likely to contribute to overall pollution levels, and the least likely to be involved in decision making that impacts the air they breathe.

We partner with other organisations to deliver projects, do research and share what we learn. Our aim is to influence change at local, borough, city, national and international levels, to mitigate the disproportionate effect poor air quality has on the health of some people more than others. 

We want to work with different partners to both reduce exposure to air pollution for those most impacted and focus on the sources of air pollution we can affect within our focus areas.

[Impact on Urban Health] has a wealth of experience in working locally on urban health issues and will deliver new approaches to cleaning up our air, as well as standards of best practice.

Jane Burston Managing Director, Clean Air Fund