Impacts of emissions policies on future UK mortality burdens associated with air pollution

Macintyre, Helen L.; Mitsakou, Christina; Vieno, Massimo ORCID:; Heal, Mathew R.; Heaviside, Clare; Exley, Karen S.. 2023 Impacts of emissions policies on future UK mortality burdens associated with air pollution. Environment International, 174, 107862. 8, pp.

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Air pollution is the greatest environmental risk to public health. Future air pollution concentrations are primarily determined by precursor emissions, which are driven by environmental policies relating to climate and air pollution. Detailed health impact assessments (HIA) are necessary to provide quantitative estimates of the impacts of future air pollution to support decision-makers developing environmental policy and targets. In this study we use high spatial resolution atmospheric chemistry modelling to simulate future air pollution concentrations across the UK for 2030, 2040 and 2050 based on current UK and European policy projections. We combine UK regional population-weighted concentrations with the latest epidemiological relationships to quantify mortality associated with changes in PM2.5 and NO2 air pollution. Our HIA suggests that by 2050, population-weighted exposure to PM2.5 will reduce by 28% to 36%, and for NO2 by 35% to 49%, depending on region. The HIA shows that for present day (2018), annual mortality attributable to the effects of long-term exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 is in the range 26,287 – 42,442, and that mortality burdens in future will be substantially reduced, being lower by 31%, 35%, and 37% in 2030, 2040 and 2050 respectively (relative to 2018) assuming no population changes. Including population projections (increases in all regions for 30+ years age group) slightly offsets these health benefits, resulting in reductions of 25%, 27%, and 26% in mortality burdens for 2030, 2040, 2050 respectively. Significant reductions in future mortality burdens are estimated and, importantly for public health, the majority of benefits are achieved early on in the future timeline simulated, though further efforts are likely needed to reduce impacts of air pollution to health.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0160-4120
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: air quality, health, impact assessment, emissions, mortality, PM2.5, NO2
NORA Subject Terms: Health
General > Science Policy
Atmospheric Sciences
Data and Information
Date made live: 06 Nov 2023 10:11 +0 (UTC)

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