The Role of Public Health
The Public Health bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have an important role to play in shaping our understanding of the health impacts that air pollution has on the population of the UK.
Combining clinical research, monitoring and modelling of air pollution related conditions in the population, and collaboration with those producing air quality data, the relationships between air pollution and health have been made increasingly clear and irrefutable.
Public health bodies are also best placed to quantify this impact in terms of the relationship with mortality rates and rates and severity of health conditions, and the financial burden this places on public healthcare services. They are able to communicate these impacts to the media, to business and to other government agencies, so that the importance of making continued improvements is well understood. Some of this information, for example in relation to domestic indoor air pollution, is actionable at an individual household level.
Air pollution is considered to be the biggest environmental threat to people’s health in the UK, with long-term exposure to poor quality and polluted air causing somewhere between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths per year, with many more people affected.
Work goes on to strengthen our understanding of the dynamics of exposure to particular pollutants for individuals with different personal characteristics. Better understanding of what does most harm to certain populations of people will drive policy and prioritisation for tackling emissions.