Imperial College London

Environmental pollution affects heart and lung health, explain experts

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Professor Paul Elliott, Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at Imperial College London

Air pollution, aircraft noise and even flour in supermarket bakeries can have a negative impact on the health of heart and lungs, say researchers.

Professor Paul Elliott, Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at Imperial College London, and Professor Paul Cullinan, Consultant Physician in Respiratory Medicine at Royal Brompton Hospital, presented their research on the long-term health impacts of exposure to environmental pollution and occupational conditions at the recent Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) seminar series.

In a packed venue at the Royal Brompton Hospital, Professor Elliott spoke about his research on the negative impact of urban air pollution on cardiovascular and respiratory health in the video above.

He explained how short-term exposure to air pollution in built-up areas such as London’s busy Oxford Street can offset the positive effects on the heart and lungs that can be gained from walking.

Professor Elliott also outlined findings from a previous study which showed that risks of hospital admissions and deaths from stroke and heart disease are higher in areas with high levels of aircraft noise, suggesting that noise may play a significant role.


Professor Cullinan then discussed his research on the risks of occupational lung disease in supermarket bakers in the video above. He explained how supermarket bakery workers are at considerable risk of developing work related asthma due to exposure to ingredients involved in the baking process such as flour and widely used enzymes. 

The seminar was the first of a new series at the Royal Brompton Hospital designed to showcase the work of the AHSC, a partnership between Imperial College London and three NHS Trusts.  It aims to translate world-leading discovery science into new diagnostics, devices and therapies as quickly as possible, for the benefit of patients and populations worldwide.

The next event will be on ‘Understanding and Treating Allergies’ and will take place on Monday 19 March at the Royal Brompton Hospital from 12:00.

This talk will be delivered by Adnan Custovic, Clinical Professor of Paediatric Allergy at Imperial College London and honorary consultant at Imperial College Healthcare Trust, and Stephen Durham, Head of Section for Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London.


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