Air pollution in London contributes to over 1,700 hospital admissions for asthma


Asthma inhalers

London’s poor air quality led to over 1,700 hospital admissions for asthma and serious lung conditions between 2017-2019, according to new analysis.

The report from Imperial College London’s Environmental Research Group modelled the impact of air pollution in London on asthma admissions, comparing levels of pollution from 2019 to 2016. The report was commissioned by the Greater London Authority via Imperial Projects.

The report estimates that between 2017-2019 air pollution in London contributed to around:

  • 700 asthma admissions in children
  • 200 asthma admission in adults
  • 900 asthma/Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) admissions in the elderly

These estimates are obtained by combining the pollution concentrations in London with information from previous studies on the percentage change in asthma admissions on days with different air pollution concentrations.

Improving air quality

The report does find that as a result of air quality improvements in London the number of air pollution attributable asthma admissions in London has reduced.

The improvement in air pollution levels reduced the number of hospital admissions for asthma and serious lung conditions by 30 per cent – from 2,450 (2014 – 2016) to 1,700 (2017 – 2019).

The largest percentage improvement was among children under the age of 14 – between 2014 and 2016, around?1,000 of those admitted to hospital with airway diseases were children under 14 with asthma. Between 2016 and 2019, these air pollution attributable admissions were reduced to 700, a 30 per cent reduction.

Dr Heather Walton, Senior Author of the report, said: “Air pollution continues to contribute to many hospital admissions for asthma and COPD in London but it is good to see that these hospital admissions have decreased from 2016 to 2019 as a result of air pollution reductions in London. More policies to reduce air pollution in London should reduce these numbers further and reduce other health impacts of air pollution as well.”

The full report is available at: Health impact assessment of current and past air pollution on asthma in London


Jack Stewart

Jack Stewart
School of Public Health

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