Effects of air pollution on cardiopulmonary disease in urban and peri-urban residents in Beijing

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Analytical & Environmental Sciences

Abstract

In the last few decades China's rising energy requirements have led to increased air pollution emissions from coal-fired power plants. Its motorized transport growth is the fastest in the world with the number of motor vehicles projected to quadruple in the next two decades, reaching over 380 million by 2030. Meanwhile, nearly half of all Chinese still cook and heat their homes with highly polluting biomass and coal fuels. The resulting particulate matter (PM) concentrations in the majority of Chinese cities routinely exceed the World Health Organization's (WHO) annual Air Quality Guideline of 10 microgrammes/m3 by a factor of 10 or more.

Epidemiologic studies undertaken in China increasingly confirm links between poor air quality and a range of health risks previously observed in the West. Moreover, they confirm that the number of Chinese that are vulnerable to air pollution is increasing, as evidenced by a large and growing burden of disease from chronic non-communicable diseases - such as ischemic heart disease (IHD), cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cancer. Research to enhance the understanding of the impact of environmental exposures on human health is needed to influence both government policy on pollution and also individual behaviours. The outcomes of the research described in this proposal will extend our understanding of the impact of air pollution on human health to a megacity in the world's largest country and promote evidence-based policies that in turn may greatly improve the health and quality of life of China's ageing population - both of which are important sustainable development aims.

Working closely with Chinese scientists we will recruit a panel of 240 subjects from urban and peri-urban Beijing. Subjects will be recruited from two existing populations cohorts (PRC-USA and INTERMAP) ensuring a rich source of baseline data and stored samples for access. Across the project period we will obtain detailed information on the current health status of the subjects, details of the personal exposure to air pollution and biosamples for biomarker analysis.

The UK has been at the heart of the scientific study of air pollution issues over many decades, whereas such scientific studies are much newer in China. Although the Chinese teams have developed a high level of expertise in some areas, the UK team will provide strong complementary expertise, in particular in personal exposure air pollution measurements and biomarker analysis. Inherent throughout however is the synergistic combination of Chinese expertise and capability, complementary UK air quality instrumentation and health expertise. Therefore, this project will serve as a new platform to further enhance the research capacity of the Chinese teams in air pollution and its impact on health, which will leave a legacy beyond the project lifetime, thus contributing to the continuous improvement of life and welfare of more than a billion people.

Planned Impact

We will develop three specific impact activities within the project.
1. Support Chinese collaborators in their role as influencers of policy and practice in Beijing and China
2. Public understanding of the science and impacts of urban air pollution.
3. Translation of AIRLESS science to other megacities in Asia.

1. Supporting impact pathways for Chinese collaborators
With the top Chinese officials showing a strong political will and suggesting it is the time to win the war against air pollution. (Premier Keqiang Li declared a war against air pollution in early 2014) the playing field is set for strong science to play a leading role in this challenge. Within the modest resources available and constraints of the project our focus on impact will be through engagement with decision makers. Our role as an influencer and by extension our route to impact is via our Chinese collaborators at Peking University. We will use our considerable experiences of working with agencies in the UK, Defra, EA, and GLA to help guide our input.. A policymakers project summary document and presentation will be produced in collaboration with Chinese partners, and delivered to key decision makers at the end of the project at a dedicated meeting hosted by Chinese collaborators.
Costs: - Policymakers summary, materials and joint meeting in Beijing (£1540 UK Travel and £1,000 contribution to meeting costs).

2. Public understanding of science
The public profile of air pollution is currently high, both in China and the UK. Hardly a week passes without articles in the media mentioning the 'haze;' in China or the NO2 problem in the UK. Such high profile media attention provides opportunities for potential engagement with the public on the underlying science, and also potentially with a range of NGOs. Our experience in operating the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) has shown us that the best approach is to provide the public with a clear message and to make all underlying data freely available instil confidence.

All the UK PI's are already active players in science dissemination with media appearances, talks at high profile science events as well as school visits and production of outreach materials. This work is ongoing and enduring and we identify that the most effective role for AIRLESS is to provide new data to illustrate the challenges facing those living and working in developing Megacities. All supporting materials produced will be open access, scientifically robust, but neutral on policy, they have the potential to be used effectively by others engaged in similar activities in the UK, China and elsewhere.
Key outputs - new visual and demonstration materials for use in existing outreach programmes (no staff cost, £1,000 for production of materials).

3. Translating AIRLESS science to other megacities
The PI's of this project have a track record of successful engagement in the UK and at a European level. This project focusing on air quality and health in China's capital city, Beijing, provides some special opportunities in terms of scale of impact. Any science that leads to a change in policy or practice that results in cleaner air in China has the potential to have a vast health and economic benefit.

Whilst no two cities are identical, many of the underlying causes of air pollution in Beijing can be found in other developing cities, and much of the science and capability developed may have applicability in other locations. We will work with the other themes to host a (London) event targeted at overseas development agencies such as DfID and key aid and policy organisations highlighting the state of the science, and how this may be used to help countries identify their particular air quality challenges and most effective interventions for their subjects.
Key Outputs: - End of project event targeting development and overseas aid organisations (£1,000 meeting costs, but with expected contributions from other projects
 
Title Camden Peoples Theatre Presents FOG EVERYWHERE 
Description In an urgent new production by Camden People's Theatre in collaboration with King's College London and students from Westminster Kingsway College, the critical condition and consequences of London's dirty air are explored onstage as the headliner of CPT's Shoot the Breeze festival. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The production was sold out for the full two week period and provided the general public with information about air pollution in a creative way. As stated in British Theatre Guide "These lively young people have mixed information, history, science, comedy and physical theatre to build up to a Grime music battle delivered with enormous enthusiasm". 
URL https://www.cptheatre.co.uk/production/fog-everywhere/
 
Title Clothes that highlight air pollution are coming to London 
Description The only reminder of the dirty air we breathe is usually just the black stuff that lines every commuter's nostrils, so it's easy to forget that those sputtering exhaust fumes kill up to 9,500 people per year in the capital. Imagine if there was a way to avoid the most heavily polluted areas of the city through the clothes you wear. This is the thinking behind Human Sensor, a high-tech fashion range designed by media artist and environmentalist Kasia Molga, in collaboration with Professor Frank Kelly and members of the Environmental Research Group at King's College London. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact The project has received excellent press, TV and Radio coverage including The Guardian, BBC Northwest, The Washington Post, Nature.com and London Evening Standard. 
URL http://invisibledust.com/project/kasia-molgas-human-sensor-project/
 
Description Effects of AIR pollution on cardiopuLmonary disEaSe in urban and peri-urban reSidents in Beijing (AIRLESS) is a project in which we are examining the impact of air pollution on the health of residents who live in the centre of Beijing with residents who live outside the Beijing urban sprawl in a rural area. The 120 individuals in the rural area are exposed to pollution, but it tends to be more of a coal/biomass type of pollution experienced as part of their everyday lives, whereas in central Beijing it's more traffic-based pollution. We are providing these volunteers with personal air quality monitors and measuring their exposure for 24 hours a day for seven days. This data provides us with a unique view of their personal exposure to air pollution. We are also taking biological samples including blood and urine from these individuals, and we are looking for signals to the specific pollutants that they are being exposed to. With this approach we hope to come up with a better understanding of why particular types of air pollution lead to particular biological responses.
Exploitation Route Two field campaigns have now been completed one in Winter and one in Summer. Databases are being compiled and analysis will commence shortly. We hope to come up with a better understanding of why particular types of air pollution lead to particular biological responses, which can be linked to various health outcomes.
Sectors Environment,Healthcare,Transport

 
Description Characterisation of COPD Exacerbations using Environmental Exposure Modelling
Amount £789,571 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/L019744/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2014 
End 09/2017
 
Description Delivering a Pilot Study for Researching Personal Air Quality Exposure
Amount £98,600 (GBP)
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 05/2018
 
Description Effects of air pollution on cardiopulmonary disease in urban and peri-urban residents
Amount £490,215 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/N007018/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2019
 
Description Fellowship - Effects of air pollution on cardiopulmonary disease in urban and periurban residents in Beijing
Amount £59,000 (GBP)
Organisation K. C. Wong Education Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Hong Kong
Start 05/2017 
End 05/2018
 
Description Identifying the mechanisms for the effects of air pollution on cardiopulmonary disease in Beijing, China
Amount £234,220 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S006729/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 03/2021
 
Description The Hong Kong D3D Study: A Dynamic Three Dimensional Exposure Model for Hong Kong
Amount $642,979 (USD)
Funding ID 4941-RFA13-1/14-2-3 
Organisation Health Effects Institute (HEI) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2016
 
Description Using metabolomics to investigate the metabolic signatures and associated pathways linked to short-term exposure to air pollutants
Amount £328,002 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/S020810/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2021
 
Description Air pollution linked to greater risk of mouth cancer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Frank Kelly was interviewed for an article in The Guardian titled, "Air pollution linked to greater risk of mouth cancer".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/09/air-pollution-linked-to-greater-risk-of-mouth-ca...
 
Description Bacteria could be making China's smog worse: Microorganisms that may be harmful to human health are multiplying and thickening Beijing's pollution haze, experts warn 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Frank Kelly comments on air quality in China.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6589811/Bacteria-making-Chinas-smog-worse.html
 
Description China Megacity Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participated at the China Megacity Meeting and gave a talk titled "Effects of Air pollution on Cardiopulmonary disease in urban and peri-urban residents in Beijing (AIRLESS)"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Chinese Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee and Chinese Delegation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Requested a meeting with Chinese Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee and Chinese Delegation and gave a talk titled "London's AIR pollution STORY: from pea soup smog's to an ultra low emission CITY"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Contributed to article for BBC News Online 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Contributed to BBC News Online article titled "Amazing views and dirty air in French Alps".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39115829
 
Description Contributed to article in New Scientist 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Professor Frank Kelly is quoted in an article about pollution in European cities in New Scientist titled "Paris says 'non' to diesel in anti-pollution push".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26678-paris-says-non-to-diesel-in-anti-pollution-push/#.VIgXN...
 
Description Contributed to article in the Independent 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Professor Frank Kelly contributed to an article in the Independent titled "Labour's drive towards diesel cars causing 'massive public health problem,' admits shadow Environment Minister".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/motoring-news/labours-drive-towards-diesel-cars-cau...
 
Description Interview for Channel 4 Dispatches programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Professor Frank Kelly interviewed for Channel 4 Dispatches programme titled "The great car con".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Professor Frank Kelly named one of London's most influential people 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Frank Kelly included in the Evening Standard Progress 1000: London;s most influential people 2016 - Eco Warriors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/newsevents/newsrecords/2016/sep/Faculty-staff,-student-and-alumnus-all-name...
 
Description Quoted in a BBC News article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Frank Kelly is quoted in a BBC news article that looks at the claim made by the Chinese government that Beijing's air quality improved sharply in the winter of 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-42513531
 
Description RAMPHAL INSTITUTE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MEGACITIES AND TOXIC AIR POLLUTION 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Professor Kelly presented at the RAMPHAL Institute International Conference on megacities and Air pollution "Pollution problems in Megacities"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participated in the Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems and gave a talk titled "Traffic Pollution and Health in Umea, London and Beijing"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Shandong Environmental Protection Department site visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Hosted visitors from Shandong Environmental Protection Bureau and gave a presentation titled "Air Quality & Health; how King's College London is serving society".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017