Impacts of Future Environmental Change on Climate- and Air Pollution-Mediated Human Health

Lead Research Organisation: London Sch of Hygiene and Trop Medicine
Department Name: Public Health and Policy


Ozone formed in the lowest 10-15km of the atmosphere, which is called the troposphere, is a hazardous air pollutant, known to increase the incidence of human respiratory diseases. Indeed, the recent heat wave of 2003 in Europe has demonstrated population vulnerability to ozone exposure and temperature extremes. However, research and policy has tended to focus on health impacts of ozone and temperature independently. Future changes in climate will modify ozone through changes in its chemical production and transport, whilst ozone itself feedbacks on future climate. Climate change will also increase the incidence of high temperature extremes. In addition, rapid industrialisation trends in the developing world are likely to lead to increased background levels of ozone in the future. Understanding how tropospheric ozone and heat wave episodes may change in the future, and, in particular, their interactive effects on human health, is therefore an extremely important for policy makers concerned with mitigation of the impacts of climate and air quality on human health. This proposal brings together scientists in environmental and health disciplines to perform innovative research towards a quantitative assessment of future impacts for human health of changes in climate and emissions of ozone producing gases, for the UK. We will use a state-of-the art high resolution coupled chemistry-climate model and develop sophisticated statistical models of exposure-response relationships to investigate future health impacts related to temperature and ozone. In particular, the sensitivity of ozone exposure-mortality relationship to summertime extreme temperatures such as those experienced in the August 2003 heat wave will be investigated for various susceptible population groups. Future joint distributions of ozone concentrations and temperature extremes will then be estimated for a future emission and climate scenario, and corresponding ozone-related population health burdens and air quality exceedences across UK cities evaluated. This work will improve our understanding of present-day and future changes in health burdens as mediated by climate and air pollution. It will also provide insight for policy makers as to whether a revision of current policy related to ozone air quality standards is warranted in the future.


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Doherty RM (2009) Current and future climate- and air pollution-mediated impacts on human health. in Environmental health : a global access science source

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Pattenden S (2010) Ozone, heat and mortality: acute effects in 15 British conurbations. in Occupational and environmental medicine

Description The impact of ozone air pollution on mortality is greater during heat events in London but not for other UK conurbations. This finding was reported in the NERC 2008/09 annual report.
Exploitation Route Led to follow up research under EEHI initiative.
Held stakeholder workshop to present results to UK government agencies.
Sectors Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

Description Reported in NERC 2008/09 annual report. Dose response relationships used in at least one other study (in Nature Climate Change):
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport
Impact Types Policy & public services