Environment & Health
Air pollution impacts substantially on human health, the environment and economies. Billions of us are exposed to outdoor air pollution on a daily basis, and rapid urbanisation is increasing urban air pollution in major cities, especially in developing countries.
King’s Environmental Research Group (ERG) aims to determine the causal factors and impacts of air pollution on health through a combination of air pollution science, toxicology and epidemiology. The group is one of the leading providers of air quality information and research in its field. Scientific evidence from the ERG’s research informs policy makers in the UK and wider world and includes contributions to the WHO Air Quality Guidelines and review of evidence on health aspects of air pollution’ and ‘health risks of air pollution in Europe’ as a part of the European Commission’s review of their air quality legislation.
The ERG carries out a comprehensive programme of research across lung biology, measurement, modelling and science policy. The team aims to understand the mechanisms by which air pollution impacts on human health, with a focus on gaseous pollutants such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide, as well as particle matter from air around vehicle exhaust. Effective measurement of air pollution is a key step facilitating assessment of health effects, targeted development of control polices and feedback on their implementation. The ERG’s work on measurement aims to understand the sources of air pollution, to what extent people are exposed, the impact that this has on their heath, providing the public with information to make choices about their exposure. The ERG is one of the UK's leading providers of detailed dispersion modelling assessments, and urban emissions inventories. The work of the ERG helps establish a strong scientific evidence base with which to inform policymakers on a global scale.
ERG is currently conducting two studies in China to use air pollution findings to pave the way for new thinking about urban planning in crowded and severely polluted megacities as buildings continue to be constructed skywards. In the Hong Kong HKD3D study, by placing sensors that measure pollution levels on and in high-rise buildings, and comparing these to health records of the residents, scientists hope to provide information that will help urban planning to minimise the effect of air pollution on urban populations. The AIRLESS project follows panels of residents in two contrasting areas of Beijing and maps their health in relation to assessments of their exposure to air quality. The aim of this four year research project is to investigate the effects of air pollution on cardiopulmonary disease in urban and peri-urban residents in Beijing.