Air Quality and Health in Sefton

Why is Air Quality Important
• Poor air quality reduces the life expectancy of
everyone in the UK by an average of seven to eight
months and up to 50,000 people a year may die
prematurely because of it1.
• New evidence on the longer-term impacts shows
that greater gains in life expectancy could be
achieved by tackling air quality than are currently
being realised by efforts to eliminate road deaths
and passive smoking combined1.
1 House of Commons, Environmental Audit Committee, Air Quality, Fifth Report of Session 2009–10
Background in Sefton
• Residents regularly express concerns about health
• 10 year difference in life expectancy between areas
of Sefton
• Widespread belief this is linked to air pollution
• Uncertainty of relationship between monitored
levels and health impacts
• Need to investigate this and either
– Reassure residents
– Identify necessary action
Projects with Health Agencies
• Worked with ‘Health Authority’, Chest
Physicians from local hospitals and
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
(LSTM) to investigate impacts of coal
dust on local school children
• In 1999 launched Airwatch Alert System
in conjunction with the PCT
Projects with Health Agencies
• Commissioned LSTM to carry out study exploring
links between pollutant emissions and health
• Supported MSc dissertation by Helen Casstles
‘Understanding the potential health impact from
particulate matter within an air quality
management area close to the port of Liverpool.’
• Commissioned further study by LSTM exploring links
between pollutant concentrations and health in
LSTM AQ and Health Study
• Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine commissioned
to undertake study examining links between
pollutant emissions and health
• Study used Emissions data rather than
Adequate sample size for initial work required whole Sefton data
Monitoring network not comprehensive enough to supply this
Modelling dependant on to many variables
If link could be established with emissions provides more stable
relationship that can be more generally applied
Health and AQ in an AQMA
• Department supported an MSc Dissertation*
examining potential health impact of PM10 levels
within an AQMA
– Department provided data on PM10 Concentrations
– Used Middle Super Output Area data on health and depravation to
develop a health profile of the area
– Estimated the potential effect on all cause mortality from localised
particulate pollution published dose response coefficients.
• Complimented LSTM work
• Looking at problem from ‘both ends’ develop an
holistic understanding of the issues
*Author Helen Casstles
• Both studies have shown that air
pollution and deprivation are linked
• People in the most deprived areas
suffer other health impacts
– Smoking prevalence higher
– Poorer housing conditions
• Air pollution can add to these impacts
Benefits of this Approach
• Develops holistic understanding of problems
– Links to other Public Health issues
• Helps identify effective actions and target
– LAQM review conclusions
• Addresses residents concerns and puts AQ in
an more understandable context
– Localism
• Changes to Public Health delivery may give
opportunity for greater integration
Other Work
• All Merseyside local authorities are working
with PCTs
• Liverpool CC about to begin
– Airtext project – informing residents of pollution levels
by text
– Message Project real time micro level pollution
monitoring and reporting could provide valuable data
for health studies
• We feel this work is important but we are only at
the beginning
• We need this kind of discussion to bring together
people from different disciplines with different
viewpoints and develop a way forward
• Need to comply with EU Directives may ‘direct’
attention from the most pressing health impacts –
• Opportunity to target resources to get the best
health outcomes