SAHSU advises Chief Medical Officer on the health impacts of Air Pollution

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The UK's Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies of Imperial College, chose to focus her anual medical report on the adverse effects of air pollution on the population of England. 

Centre researchers from the UK Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU)  contributed a chapter to the report on 'Pollution - data, surveillance and health impacts'. The chapter, written by Paul Elliott, Anna Hansell, Fred Piel and Daniela Fecht, highlights the large volume of data on pollution and health outcomes now available, and how this provides exceptional opportunities to carry out investigations into the impacts of environmental pollution on human health and for the detection and prevention of non-communicable diseases in the UK and elsewhere.

Centre members and collaborators also contributed to several other chapters in the report; For instance, Heather Walton from King’s College London provided valuable input for chapter 9, ‘Measurement and communication of health risks from pollution’ whilst Tim Gant, PHE lead for the HPRU, was a leading source for Chapter 2 ‘Pollution from the health and care System’.

In addition to the above mentioned centre members work in chapters of the CMO report, Prof Frank Kelly of KCL was also a member of the CMO's Advisory Board covering Air Pollution issues.

She stated that not only was this relevant to Britain, but that this pressing matter of air 'pollution is becoming an established a a priority for the international community'. You can read the full article here

The medical report chose to hold a refreshing and much needed commentary on the current state of the way in which the lives of those living in the UK are subjected to PM2.5, and outlined that this was 'likely to have significantly deleterious impact at population level due to the extent of exposure'. 

There were several key recommendations which Dame Sally Davis mentioned, however the essence of what she urged in terms of needed further action can be summarised as thus:

  • Further research and investigation into the effects of air pollution is needed
  • Taking preventative measures is essential if the UK wants to minimise the future potential impact that such contact with air pollution may have on the NHS. 

The work that facilities such as the Small Area Health Statistics Unit carry's out, such as investigating the associative health detriments Noise/ Air pollution may cause, such as increased cardio-related incidents, is now more than ever crucial if we want to tackle such problems facing our environment and quality of life.