Exposure to air pollution has important short and long term health consequences, and can have detrimental effects across the life course. Short-term exposure to elevated levels of air pollution has been linked to a range of health effects, including lung function, exacerbation of asthma, increases in respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions and mortality. There is also strong evidence that long-term exposure to air pollution causes the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer, and exacerbates asthma. In 2010, the Environment Audit Committee considered that the cost of health impacts of air pollution was likely to exceed estimates of £8 to 20 billion.
Exposure to pollutants can have lasting influences from pregnancy to older age, however a report published by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, found that there is limited evidence investigating the impact of air pollution for unborn children and young children. Additionally, very few studies have assessed the impact of air pollution interventions on health inequalities (Wang et al. 2016), however individuals who reside in deprived urban environments may be more exposed than the general population.
Initial work will involve:
1. Developing small area indicators through the PLDR to support: – the monitoring of implementation, the identification of needs for targeting and the evaluation of impact. E.g longitudinal small area indicators of health conditions sensitive to air quality (e.g respiratory admissions, bronchodilator prescribing etc) and local data on air quality).
2. Scoping actions being taken across the NWC and public perceptions of these
3. Using Health Impact Assessment approaches to influence these actions through evidence synthesis and public engagement.
4. Designing evaluation using natural experimental methods developed through the CLAHRC to prospectively investigate health impacts. The work will form the basis for development of a future grant application.