Air pollution epidemiology
The existing consensus for the adverse health effects of air pollution relies to a large extent on results of epidemiological studies and was built through a difficult debate in the scientific literature and international fora. ERG has established teams in measurement of air pollution, modelling, exposure science, toxicology and policy but the Epidemiology is relatively new. At the same time, improving health is a motivation for all of ERG’s work and this encompasses Epidemiological studies. The Air Pollution Epidemiology team takes advantage of the interdisciplinary work that can be applied by joining forces in ERG whilst at the same time it establishes international links for research, bringing in added value from the data and the expertise available within ERG. Although there are several research teams in the UK and London working on environmental aspects of health, this team focuses on air pollution epidemiology in a rather unique way. This includes a focus on methodological issues that impact interpretation of epidemiological studies and improving approaches to health impact assessment.
Members of the team have extensive experience in implementing large scale epidemiological studies and addressing methodological issues that are important for air pollution research, such as measurement error or the interpretation of epidemiological results for policy. Recently the MRC Methodology Panel funded project “STEAM” was concluded, and a new project funded by the U.S. Health Effects Institute – “MELONS”. D. Evangelopoulos obtained his PhD in 2019 on measurement error and continues this work in MELONS and the Horizon2020 EXPANSE project. Currently, D. Wood is working on a project assessing air pollution effects on cognitive function in the elderly in collaboration with the Modelling team. The Air Pollution Epidemiology team will also contribute to the NIHR net zero project, and a Transport for London project on health impact calculations in London. The new HPRU includes a meta-analysis of air pollution and birth outcomes. The group has also a collaboration with the Exposure Science team in analyzing the health data from the COPE project.
Alongside work on assessing the health effects of air pollution in an epidemiological context, including cognitive development, the team will now look to focus on methods development capitalizing on the unique datasets available in London. The team will also work on the interactions with other environmental factors, such as climatic variables and noise. Understanding interactions should help in developing methods to deal with combined risks in health impact assessment.
Recent or ongoing research projects
- STEAM – Spatio-Temporal Exposure Assessment Methods for estimating the health effects of air pollution
- MELONS - Investigating the consequences of measurement error of gradually more sophisticated long-term personal exposure models in assessing health effects (start date: July 1, 2020)
- COPE: Characterisation of COPD exacerbations using environmental exposure modelling
- NIHR Health Protection Research Unit on Health Impact of Environmental Hazards. 2014-2020 and Environmental Exposures and Health 2020-2025
- NIHR The air quality health and economic costs and benefits of a zero carbon UK from July 2020
- Personalised air pollution health impacts
- Exploring the potential of emergency measures to reduce air pollution during air pollution episodes
- Modelling the Mortality Impacts of Mayoral Air Quality Policies.