Effects of Air Pollution on Cardiopulmonary Disease in Urban and Peri-Urban Residents in Beijing

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Chemistry


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

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 to 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).


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DeSouza P (2017) A Nairobi experiment in using low cost air quality monitors in Clean Air Journal

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Schneider P (2019) Toward a Unified Terminology of Processing Levels for Low-Cost Air-Quality Sensors. in Environmental science & technology

Description The component of this project for which Cambridge was responsible was to deploy a series of personal air-quality monitors across two patient cohorts one in central (urban) Beijing with the second being in a rural (agricultural) site around 70 km from central Beijing in a town called Pinggu. The personal monitors allowed not only outdoor air quality to be assessed but also indoor air quality. Two separate periods were sampled, one during the winter 2016/17, the second during summer 2017. High-quality observations were obtained during both periods. What was striking was that pollution levels tended to be higher in the rural community, largely as a result of indoor heating and cooking methods. The outcome from the data alone will be a high-quality determination of the relative pollution levels in urban and rule China as a function of the season
Other partners in the project collected biomarker data from the patient cohorts. These two sets of data are now being collated with results expected in the next six months.
The expected outcomes will be an important dataset linking health impacts to air quality providing direct causal links to particular pollution events and specific health outcomes.
Exploitation Route This project is still in the analysis phase, but the expected outcomes will be important scientific and political drivers to inform interventions which can then improve our quality in critical ways and overall to reduce the impacts of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) associated with environmental exposure.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

Description CAPABLE (GCRF capacity building project in Bangladesh
Amount £8,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 10/2021
Description EPSRC pilot funded project BELIEVE
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 08/2018
Title Research data supporting "Characterising low-cost sensors in highly portable platforms to quantify personal exposure in diverse environments" 
Description Measurements of air pollution collected with novel sensing technologies that now offer the potential to monitor detailed personal exposure during daily life at population scale, thanks to their significantly reduced cost, smaller size and fast-response: This data was collected with a state-of-the-art personal air quality monitor (PAM) and aims to characterise the performance of this specific configuration with currently available sensor variants for specific environmental conditions, as a necessary precursor to a series of papers on exposure and health impacts using these PAMs. More specifically, the PAM has already been deployed to participants of two large cardio-pulmonary cohorts in China AIRLESS- Theme 3 APHH project) and the UK (COPE) and in a number of smaller international pilot projects. This dataset was collected to assess the performance of the PAM sensors in well-characterised outdoor, indoor and commuting microenvironments across seasons and diverse environments. Measurements of gaseous pollutants were collected with commercially available electrochemical sensors and measurements of particulate matter have been collected with a miniaturised optical particle counter. See the README file for a detailed description of each data file. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Description CAPABLE kickoff meeting, Dhaka, Bangladesh 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact CAPABLE kickoff meeting, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017