Delhi Air Pollution: Health aNd Effects (DAPHNE)

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

Abstract

DAPHNE is a consortium of doctors, scientists and technologists drawn from 9 institutions (six in India and three in the UK), to study the effect of air pollution in the city of Delhi on the health of pregnant mothers and their new-born children, and asthmatic adolescents. This group is particularly vulnerable because of their greater intake of air with respect to the body weight, and an underdeveloped immunity system; and, also, the adolescents have greater outdoor exposure when travelling to school and during play times. In addition to estimating the amount of suspended particles and gaseous pollution inhaled by subjects using existing networks of stationary air quality monitors and satellite data, the project introduces novel devices worn on the person to measure exposure to suspended particles and noxious gases, and monitor their breathing rate and breathing effort when the subjects are out and about in their everyday lives. This will estimate the impact of air pollution on their asthma and how different levels of activity could contribute to changes in their condition. Biomarkers in samples of blood and urine taken from the subjects will be used as further evidence to estimate the effects of air pollution on changes in their well-being. Finally, a panel of stakeholders drawn from India and the UK will advise on how best the research results can be translated into interventions to help mitigate the effects for the benefit of the citizens of Delhi in the first instance, with potential for world-wide application in the future.

Planned Impact

The DAPHNE research consortium brings together a team with a proven track record of research expertise in air pollution exposure and its impact on health. The primary aim of the DAPHNE is to understand the early life effects of air pollution in Delhi by estimating exposure-response relationships between ambient air pollution exposures and health effects (birth weight, acute respiratory infections in children < 2 years) and asthma exacerbations in adolescents aged 12-18 years. Given the young demography of the population in India and other developing countries, impacts of air pollution in utero and on children will carry serious public health and human resource consequences in the future. Despite the widespread prevalence of high air pollution exposures in developing countries, few cohort studies exist that are devoted to examining the association between long-term air pollution exposures and health outcomes. As a consequence of this study we will better understand the implications for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, infants and adolescents. Through a better understanding of the contribution of different sources of pollution to people's exposure, more cost-effective reductions in exposure can be targeted to reduce the health burden of air pollution. In concert with results from projects from other Themes in this call, a multi-pronged approach to reducing the burden of disease from air pollution can be developed, both at a macro-level, e.g., source emission reduction, and at a micro-level, e.g., changing behaviours. In practical terms these could be in the form of advisories for asthmatic adolescents personalised to their state of health for the threshold of exertion that they could tolerate for the environmental parameters on the day, or recommendation of routes that that mothers-to-be can take for travel within Delhi.
 
Description The Centre for Speckled Computing has gained national and international recognition for its unique wearable sensor technology for contemporaneous personal PM exposure and respiratory rate/flow monitoring and sensor data analytics . We have been selective in collaborating with non-academic partners and the following are two examples which have been elaborated in the other sections of this submission: 1. Collaborated with British Heart Foundation to provide the wearable Airspeck monitors to a select number of MPs in the Westminster parliament with interests in environmental issues so that they could collect personal exposure data in their constituencies and were able to make informed contributions to the debate on the second reading of the Environment Bill in February 2020. 2. Collaborated with the World Resources Institute in two cities in Mexico, Leon and Guadalajara, to provide personal exposure data to inform policies in developing ultra low emission zones in the city centres. Detailed personal exposure measurements based on a network of stationary Airspeck monitors in the historical city centres and volunteers wearing Airspeck exposure monitors traversing this area were analysed to provide recommendations to the environmental department in the local government on the boundary for the ultra low emission zones.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Health assessment across biological length scales for personal pollution exposure and its mitigation (INHALE)
Amount £2,793,915 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/T003189/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2019 
End 03/2022
 
Description MRC-AHRC Global Public Health: Partnership Award
Amount £199,182 (GBP)
Funding ID MC_PC_MR/R024405/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 06/2020
 
Description BHF MP AIR 
Organisation British Heart Foundation (BHF)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Centre for Speckled Computing, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) collaborated to provide a selection of six members of parliament at Westminster with the Airspeck Personal monitor (developed as part of the UKRI=funded DAPHNE and PHILAP projects) to record their exposure to airborne particulates smaller than 2.5 micrometer (one-millionth of a meter) - PM2.5 - for 1 week in their constituencies. The MPs were encouraged to share their personal exposure profile in their social media accounts and make informed contributions to the debate in the House of Commons to the second reading of the Environment Bill in favour of the government reducing levels of PM2.5.
Collaborator Contribution BHF recruited the MPs, liaised with them and trained the MPs in using the Airspeck devices after receiving training from the researchers at University of Edinburgh.
Impact Christine Jardine, MP Edinburgh West - Article in the Scotsman https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/air-pollution-its-clear-edinburgh-has-real-problem-christine-jardine-1995407. Video posted in her twitter account - https://twitter.com/cajardineMP/status/1230527448208506886 Dr. James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd. Video posted - https://twitter.com/JamesDavies/status/1227936444632707072 https://twitter.com/JamesDavies/status/1230943630094983169 Dr. Davies's contribution to the debate - excerpt from Hansard dated 26th February, 2020 (http://bit.ly/3a8VRlK) = "Recently, I carried a British Heart Foundation particulate monitor around my constituency as part of a wider study being conducted by the University of Edinburgh. Daily exposure to fine particulate matter was relatively low at 11 to 43 micrograms of matter per cubic metre, but for brief periods in the vicinity of main roads, I recorded levels greater than 10 times the current EU limits we subscribe to, and more than 20 times the World Health Organisation recommended levels. These figures are concerning, and I am pleased that the Bill contains a commitment to a new legally binding target for levels of fine particulate matter. I encourage Ministers to go further and consider whether a specific figure should be included in legislation at this point, based on WHO recommendations of an annual mean level of 10 micrograms per cubic metre."
Start Year 2019
 
Description PHILAP: Public Health Initiative on LMIC Air Pollution (MC_PC_MR/R024405/1) 
Organisation Centre for Chronic Disease Control (CCDC)
Country India 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution PHILAP is funded by a MRC-AHRC Global Public Health: Partnership Award starting in March 2018 for a period of 18 months. Prof Arvind is the PI on both the DAPHNE and PHILAP projects and PHILAP draws on the existing DAPHNE sensor data collection and analysis infrastructure in Delhi. PHILAP will combine scientific data on personal exposure to air pollution of asthmatic adolescents from deprived areas in Delhi, with qualitative narratives of their experience lived in the margins of society. PHILAP will engage the ethnographic data in productive dialogue with the spatio-temporal personal exposure measurements from wearable sensors to create stylised animation sequences conveying pithy messages on the unequal burden of air pollution in developing countries.
Collaborator Contribution The partners in India and their contributions include :The Institute for Economic Growth (IEG), University of Delhi (Prof. Amita Baviskar is investigating urban environmental politics with a focus on social inequality) ; The School of Design, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (Prof. Nina Sabnani is contributing towards the design of visual narratives which captures the experience of living with asthma in Delhi across different socio-economic classes); Centre for Chronic Disease Control, Delhi (Prof. Prabhakaran will contribute towards correlating disease control with air pollution exposure).
Impact The collaboration started in March 2018 and too early to report outputs or outcomes. The collaboration is multidisciplinary bringing together computer scientists, sociologists, designers, anthropologists, and public health clinicians.
Start Year 2018
 
Description PHILAP: Public Health Initiative on LMIC Air Pollution (MC_PC_MR/R024405/1) 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution PHILAP is funded by a MRC-AHRC Global Public Health: Partnership Award starting in March 2018 for a period of 18 months. Prof Arvind is the PI on both the DAPHNE and PHILAP projects and PHILAP draws on the existing DAPHNE sensor data collection and analysis infrastructure in Delhi. PHILAP will combine scientific data on personal exposure to air pollution of asthmatic adolescents from deprived areas in Delhi, with qualitative narratives of their experience lived in the margins of society. PHILAP will engage the ethnographic data in productive dialogue with the spatio-temporal personal exposure measurements from wearable sensors to create stylised animation sequences conveying pithy messages on the unequal burden of air pollution in developing countries.
Collaborator Contribution The partners in India and their contributions include :The Institute for Economic Growth (IEG), University of Delhi (Prof. Amita Baviskar is investigating urban environmental politics with a focus on social inequality) ; The School of Design, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (Prof. Nina Sabnani is contributing towards the design of visual narratives which captures the experience of living with asthma in Delhi across different socio-economic classes); Centre for Chronic Disease Control, Delhi (Prof. Prabhakaran will contribute towards correlating disease control with air pollution exposure).
Impact The collaboration started in March 2018 and too early to report outputs or outcomes. The collaboration is multidisciplinary bringing together computer scientists, sociologists, designers, anthropologists, and public health clinicians.
Start Year 2018
 
Description PHILAP: Public Health Initiative on LMIC Air Pollution (MC_PC_MR/R024405/1) 
Organisation University of Delhi
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution PHILAP is funded by a MRC-AHRC Global Public Health: Partnership Award starting in March 2018 for a period of 18 months. Prof Arvind is the PI on both the DAPHNE and PHILAP projects and PHILAP draws on the existing DAPHNE sensor data collection and analysis infrastructure in Delhi. PHILAP will combine scientific data on personal exposure to air pollution of asthmatic adolescents from deprived areas in Delhi, with qualitative narratives of their experience lived in the margins of society. PHILAP will engage the ethnographic data in productive dialogue with the spatio-temporal personal exposure measurements from wearable sensors to create stylised animation sequences conveying pithy messages on the unequal burden of air pollution in developing countries.
Collaborator Contribution The partners in India and their contributions include :The Institute for Economic Growth (IEG), University of Delhi (Prof. Amita Baviskar is investigating urban environmental politics with a focus on social inequality) ; The School of Design, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (Prof. Nina Sabnani is contributing towards the design of visual narratives which captures the experience of living with asthma in Delhi across different socio-economic classes); Centre for Chronic Disease Control, Delhi (Prof. Prabhakaran will contribute towards correlating disease control with air pollution exposure).
Impact The collaboration started in March 2018 and too early to report outputs or outcomes. The collaboration is multidisciplinary bringing together computer scientists, sociologists, designers, anthropologists, and public health clinicians.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Personal Exposure to Environmental Pollutants (PEEPs) 
Organisation World Health Organization (WHO)
Department South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO)
Country Switzerland 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project is concerned with measuring the personal exposure to airborne particulate pollution for 72 employees of UN agencies in Delhi, India. The wearable sensors for measuring personal exposure (Airspeck-Personal) and breathing rate/flow and physical activity levels (Respeck) and stationary sensors for monitoring ambient airborne particulate concentrations, and the data analytics algorithms, were developed as part of the UKRI-funded PHILAP and DAPHNE projects.
Collaborator Contribution The WHO Southeast Asia office in Delhi recruited 72 UN employees in Delhi who volunteered to wear the Airspeck and Respeck devices (developed as part of the current UKRI-funded DAPHNE and INHALE projects) in two phases, during the summer and winter months of 2018-19.
Impact The project brings together exposure scientists, public health officers, and computer/data scientists. The information on the time-weighted exposure to particulate air pollution of the 72 UN employees in the micro-environments at home, work and during commute provided the UN agencies and their employees in Delhi the following: (1) evidence on occupational exposure and therefore the efficacy of the air filtering system at a selection of UN offices; (2) Each paritcipant was provided with detailed personal reports for the two phases. providing continuous PM2.5 exposure over time and by location. This information was essential at the institutional level for the administration to formulate policies for distance working on "bad air" days; for the UN agencies to consider providing loans for employees with poor air quality at home to purchase air purifiers; and for the employees to change their behaviour such as reconsider modes of transport and routes to work based on their personal exposure measurements.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Personal exposure and ambient air quality monitoring in Leon and Guadalajara (Mexico) to inform decisions on ultra low emission zones 
Organisation World Resources Institute
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Centre for Speckled Computing, University of Edinburgh, provided 6 Airspeck stationary ambient air quality monitors and 3 Airspeck personal sensors and phones to set up a network in the city centre of Leon and Guadalajara in Mexico during the period October 2019 to February 2020. In collaboration with WRI Mexico and the Environment departments of the city of Leon and Guadalajara with support from the Mayors' offices, volunteers wearing the Airspeck personal sensors walked/cycled daily in the city centre within the area circumscribed by the six stationary sensors. One of the researchers from the University of Edinburgh travelled to Mexico (funded by WRI Mexico) to set up the sensors and trained scientists at WRI and volunteers from the Environment department in the city government in their operation. Professor D K Arvind travelled to Mexico in late November 2019 to give 3 talks sponsored by WRI Mexico which summarised the results from the Leon deployment and prepared the deployment in Guadalajara from 17 Dec 2019 until Feb. 2020. The researchers in Edinburgh are involved in completing the final analysis of data collected from both cities and preparing publications.
Collaborator Contribution WRI Mexico liaised with the local government authorities in the cities of Leon and Guadalajara. They chose the sites where the stationary sensors were to be placed and interfaced with the volunteers in the two cities. The scientists in WRI Mexico will also contribute to the analysis and interpretation of the air quality data and the recommendations to the local governments. They contributed to the travel and subsistence of two visits by University of Edinburgh personnel and appointment a liaison person who interfaced between the researchers in Edinburgh and the volunteers on the ground in Leon and Guadalajara.
Impact The project is ongoing and currently the data is being analysed and will be published as a report and peer-reviewed publications.
Start Year 2019
 
Description An invited article in the New Statesman magazine supplement (published on 4 November, 2017) entitled "Air Pollution: the fight for clean cities". 
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 D K Arvind was invited to contribute an article for a New Statesman supplement entitled "Air pollution: the fight for clean cities". This was one of four contributed articles including one by the mayor of London, Mr. Sadiq Khan. The New Statesman has a circulation of 35,000 for the print version and in June 2016 there were 5,393,792 visitors and 4,091,832 unique visitors to the New Statesman website and 27,291,666 pageviews.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.newstatesman.com/sites/default/files/ns_clean_cities_supplement_nov_2017.pdf
 
Description Every Breath You Take 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact "Every Breath You Take" [1] was a ticketed talk given by Professor D K Arvind at the Edinburgh International Science Festival scheduled on Sunday, 7th April Sunday, 12 noon. in the auditorium at the National Museum of Scotland. The 1-hour talk was followed by a hands-on session where the members of the audience wore the Airspeck sensors )developed as part of the DAPHNE/PHILAP projects) and took a short walk around the museum and were able to view a ,map of their route with colour-coded exposure levels on the large screen when they returned the monitors.
The talk was reviewed in the Lancet Respiratory journal [2], and the article resulted in a number of inquiries. One such inquiry was from Dr. Crystal North MD, MPH, a clinician in the Department of Pulmonology and Critical Medicine a the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health. We lent her two of the Airspeck and Respeck sensors which were piloted in a research project in Mbarara, Uganda in November 2019 investigating the susceptibility of people living with HIV to air pollution-associated lung diseases. Following the success of this pilot, we were also approached by Dr Peter Moschovis MD a colleague of Dr North with a request to use the devices for a clinical trial to study the impact of household air pollution on lung growth in infants recovering from pneumonia. We have now shipped six Airspeck stationary ambient air quality monitors, five Airspeck wearable personal exposure monitors, five Respeck respiratory and physical activity monitors,and five mobile phones (developed as part of the DAPHNE/PHILAP projects) to Boston enroute to southwest Uganda to be used in the two clinical trials. As a result of this collaboration, Professor Arvind will be submitting a research proposal to MRC Applied Global Health Research Board (deadline 7 April, 2020) to fund the UK end of the US-Uganda-UK collaboration for a large-scale deployment of the Airspeck/Respeck sensors and widen the scope of the study by including UK clinical partners.

[1] https://www.ed.ac.uk/informatics/news-events/stories/2019/informatics-events-at-the-ed-int-sci-fest-2019
[2] https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanres/PIIS2213-2600(19)30151-1.pdf
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2019
 
Description Expert Panel on Air Pollution broadcast on national television (NDTV) in New Delhi, India on 4th December, 2017. 
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 Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Arvind was invited to join, as an expert, a discussion panel on air pollution in Delhi broadcast on national television (NDTV) on Monday 4th December on the prime-time "Buck stops here" programme. The air quality in Delhi during this period was particularly bad and a hot topical issue as a touring cricket team playing a test match in Delhi had to withdraw due to the adverse health effect on the players. The TV appearance was followed by interview requests from national newspapers resulting in 15 articles in English language newspapers. This was an opportunity to highlight the DAPHNE project which is researching the health effects of air pollution in Delhi.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.ndtv.com/video/sports/the-buck-stops-here/pollution-halts-india-sri-lanka-test-delhi-air...
 
Description Use of the Airspeck personal exposure monitor in a TV programme "Fighting for Air", screened nationally on BBC2 on the 10th January 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The AirSpeck monitor was used in the filming of a case study looking at the effects of exposure to air pollution on health parameters of the the TV presenter, Xand van Tulleken. The TV programme, "Fighting for Air", was screened nationally on BBC2 on the 10th January 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018