Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Geosciences


There is a large and convincing body of epidemiological evidence linking short term exposure to outdoor air pollutants to adverse health effects. However, most of this evidence is derived from studies that have linked single pollutants to health in urban environments. There is increasing recognition that greater protection against the adverse health effects of air pollution could be achieved by focusing research and policy not on individual pollutants, but by a multi-pollutant approach. Furthermore, the spatial variation in pollutant concentrations and their health impacts, especially in rural areas and areas outside the larger cities where much of the UK population reside, are not-well established. Socio-economic impacts (and related issues of environmental justice) and other geographically-determined factors, including housing characteristics (indoor pollution), are also potential modifiers of exposure to outdoor air pollution. The increasing complexity of the scientific inquiry is matched by the difficulties of formulating, proving and implementing appropriate regulatory policy. This proposal builds upon an existing collaboration between researchers in the environmental and health disciplines, with the addition of investigators and practitioners from the policy and social science fields. Our proposal aims to provide new epidemiological evidence on the health impacts of exposure to multiple pollutants; to examine the implications of such evidence for regulation and control of air quality; and to assess how uncertainties in evidence affect its translation into actionable evidence-based policies and the evaluation of their costs and benefits. There are several unique innovations in our study: 1) the development of long series of high resolution (5 km) datasets for daily concentrations of a range of pollutants and weather data, linked to geo-referenced health data including daily mortality, hospital admissions and data on heart attacks; 2) an examination of the contribution of the indoor environment as a modifier of exposure to outdoor pollutants to provide an integrated assessment of the risks to health of short term exposure to air pollution; 3) an integrated assessment of the health effects of various near-term future air quality and climate policies in 2030 as well as selected emissions reduction policies for the UK; 4) the development of a 'decision analysis' tool that includes assessment of uncertainties and can be used to infer the likely outcomes of these various policy choices.


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Doherty RM (2017) Climate change impacts on human health over Europe through its effect on air quality. in Environmental health : a global access science source

Description Produced spatio-temporal model simulations of weather and composition across the UK at 5km by 5km resolution for 2001-2010 which have been evaluated against monitor measurements.

Devised a suitable methodology for downscaling climate change from a coarse resolution global Climate model (GCM) to 5km by 5km resolution across the UK using the WRF model.

Developed Indoor/outdoor ratios of air pollution across the UK.

Produced future climate and air quality high resolution scenarios for health impact assessment based on the UK Me Office HadGEM2 -ES Global Climate Model and the WRF weather and EMEP chemical transport models.

Linked trends in air pollution concentrations with trends in socio-economic inequalities for urban and rural areas in England. We find that exposure to NO2 ad PM2.5 tends to rise as socioeconomic disadvantage is increased. The magnitude of socioeconomic inequalities in air pollution declined across the study period from 2001 to 2009.

Performed Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis to compare different policy options as evaluated by certain criteria e.g. years of life lost.
Exploitation Route Study the health effects of multi-pollutants and weather

Study effects of climate change on air pollution and on human health

Quantify the relationship between air pollution exposure levels and socio-economic inequalities

construct policy intervention scenarios to benefit human health impacts from exposure to air pollution.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Education,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

Description Our air pollution data is being linked to epidemiology via ONS mortality and morbidity records as well as socio-economic inequalities to identify health impacts and differential vulnerability associated with inequality. It is also being used to construct indoor air pollution estimates across the UK. Finally, we have involved local policy makers and scientists in a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) illustrative framework study, whereby criteria that represent different policy concerns/options are weighted by the experts, to enables a comparison of the effects of different policy options and inform decision making. An exhibition on air pollution was also presented at the Edinburgh science festival.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Education,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description The health and equity impacts of climate change mitigation measures on indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure (HEICCAM)
Amount £507,898 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/V002090/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2020 
End 08/2023
Title MCDA tool 
Description Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (at LSHTM) to used moe4lled air pollution data and health outcomes to compare different policy options as associated by different criteria e.g for human health years of life lost. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Development of a tool for policy option evaluation. paper in prep Chalabi et al. (2016) 
Title 2001-2010 dataset and 2090-2100 climate and composition projections 
Description This is a spatially and temporally complete decadal dataset of weather (generated by the WRF model) and compositions (general by the EMEP model) at 5km by 5km resolution over the UK at hourly/daily resolution depending on the variable of interest. This data will be linked to epidemiology. We have also produce decadal climate and air quality projections at the same 5km by 5km resolution for 2100 used the UK Met Office HadGEM2- ES/UKCA global climate Model as boundary conditions to WRF/EMEP. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Interest from government agencies to obtain these data. 
Description collaborations on environment and health data project 
Organisation London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Department School for Public Health Research @ LSHTM (SPHR@L)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Some of the team (myself, Wilkinson, Milojevic,Mavrogianni) were involved in a project funded under "Improving Health with Environmental Data". Our project is entitled: "Air pollution, pollen, asthma and hayfever and their interactive effect on cognitive development: an environment and health data linkage feasibility study"
Collaborator Contribution Air pollution modelling and health linkage
Impact protocol paper submitted
Start Year 2017
Description presentation on air pollution and asthma 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Planetary health conference- talk on asthma and air pollution
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description talks on air pollution and health effects 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Talks at, at national conferences and
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2015