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Air quality & health research

Air Quality and Health

Over the last 5 years King's modelling group have worked with colleagues to published a number of papers on air pollution and health. 

The subject matter for these papers is wide ranging and includes:

  • the air pollution and mortality benefits of the London Congestion Charge
  • the Relationship Between Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Emergency Hospitalisations
  • air pollution and incidence of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke as well as on the Survival After Stroke
  • on use of oxidative potential, a Toxicity Based Measure of PM Exposure and comparing PM mass concentration and PM oxidative potential exposure metrics to health outcomes within large human cohort
  • estimating the changes over time in health effects of air pollution using cardio-respiratory hospital admissions

The Traffic and Health project in London

King's modelling group has a close working relationship with epidemiologists and statisticians and is currently CO-I on the UK Research Council funded Traffic Pollution and Health in London project (Traffic). 

As part of the “Traffic” project we are providing the emissions and monthly/yearly air quality modelling predictions (2003 - 2010), to investigate spatio-temporally a range of health outcomes including child lung function and cardiovascular risk markers, primary care consultations, adverse reproductive outcomes, hospital admissions, acute coronary syndrome and mortality. 

Details of the project can be found on the Traffic research project page.

Big Data - Hybrid exposure models

Also as part of the “Traffic” project, the group is building London’s first hybrid exposure model using highly detailed space-time-activity data and combining this with the CMAQ-urban model.

As part of the ‘hybrid’ model development, the CMAQ-urban results will be combined (spatio-temporally) with space-time-activity data from a population-based sample of 8000 households in London, containing details of their work and leisure trips, use of cars and public transport and factors affecting travel. 

This rich dataset also includes approximately 20 different characteristics of each interviewee, including: gender, age, ethnicity, usual modes of transport to work/education, journey purposes and socio-economic factors. The hybrid exposure model also includes in-vehicle exposure models, with the exposure to traffic pollution in homes and offices under development. 

Further developments to this model would include use of oystercard data.


This figure above captures the flow of millions of oyster card trips between boroughs in London. The larger the number of trips the thicker the line.

Air quality and climate change 

For this NIHR project King's modelling will investigate the range of public health dis/benefits of different policy pathways to meeting the Climate Change Act commitment to an 80% reduction in CO2 equivalents by 2050. The project will compare pathways which maximises the reduction in air pollution to ones which do not. The outcomes will be to quantify the public health impacts on mortality and morbidity arising from the various options for achieving the 2050 targets, with the most important being those concerned with particulate matter  but also the influence of other pollutants of concern such as ozone.

Model uncertainty methods

King's modelling group are currently working on the development of model uncertainty methods aimed at establishing the important parameters driving model uncertainty. 

Examples of this work include the sensitivity of model outputs to uncertainties in the emissions inventories using Gaussian process emulators acting as a surrogate for the model in Fourier amplitude sensitivity tests.

Atmospheric Science research

In recent years King's modelling group have worked with colleagues to publish a number of papers on air pollution research. This has covered a wide range of subject areas including: 

  • The impact of congestion charging and Low Emission Zone on vehicle emissions and air quality in London
  • Investigating the importance of primary NO2 emissions from road traffic, the development of the first primary NO2 emission inventories and the influence this has on meeting EU limit values
  • Recent evidence concerning higher NOX emissions from passenger cars and light duty vehicles and its influence on emissions trends of NOX and NO2 emissions from road traffic in Great Britain
  • Developing coupled regional and local scale dispersion models and the role they could play in human exposure predictions and finally how ozone deposition can affect human health as well as ecosystems

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