New traffic pollution study launched
Posted on 08/12/2010
Commuters in London
Researchers at King’s College London are developing ways of working out a person’s individual exposure to traffic pollution when travelling to, from, and around London.
King’s researchers will ask volunteers if they can monitor their movements through Oyster card information or GPS on mobile phones. This will then be analysed alongside pollution readings from sites across London to create a mathematical model for tens of thousands of average journeys every week. Once this information is collected, people will eventually be able to access it online.
This means that people will be able to use this information to adapt their journeys where possible to avoid unnecessary exposure to harmful vehicle emissions.
This is part of a new project run by the Environmental Research Group at King’s to understand better the health problems caused by traffic pollution in the city. The project has been made possible thanks to a £2million grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) to a consortium of researchers from King’s, Imperial College London, St George’s University of London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
King’s researchers say that ultimately the information gathered will help them to make better estimates of personal exposure to pollution across specific sectors of the population. This in turn will enable the team to run better, more accurate health studies to examine the relationship between air pollution and poor health.
Professor Frank Kelly, Director of the Environmental Research Group said: ‘This is an exciting new project which will tell us much more about how pollution affects the health of people in the city.
‘We already know traffic pollution can have adverse effects on the health of some people living and working in London, but this project will allow us to understand better the risks to individuals as they go about their everyday lives.
‘When the project is up and running, people will be able to submit details of their journey onto a website, and it will tell them the levels of traffic pollution they are exposed to every step of the way. This will mean people can adapt their journeys where possible to reduce their exposure. For example, walking just one street away from a busy main road can significantly reduce the amount of traffic emissions we breathe in.’
Alongside this work, the team will also carry out studies to measure toxins in the air. It is already known that particles from vehicle exhausts cause a range of health problems such as asthma, but emissions from vehicles are regulated in terms of total particles, with no specific targeting of particular components.
Some particles in emissions are more toxic than others, and differ between vehicles. The team wants to identify which particles trigger a bigger biological response in humans. This would be a major step forward in more focussed traffic and infrastructure planning and management in London.
The project begins in January 2011, and will run for four years.
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2010 QS international world rankings), The Sunday Times 'University of the Year 2010/11' and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has nearly 23,000 students (of whom more than 8,600 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and some 5,500 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit:
Medical Research Council
For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including one of the first antibiotics penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. It coordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more. NERC receives around £400 million a year from the government's science budget, which it uses to fund independent research and training in universities and its own research centres. www.nerc.ac.uk
For further information please contact Emma Reynolds, Press Officer at King’s College London, on 0207 848 4334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org