Published: 17 June 2021
Thursday 17 June 2021 is Clean Air Day. To mark the day we're celebrating the work of St George's Professor Richard Atkinson and his research which has played an important role in influencing policy decisions around options for reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions, underpinning the UK Government’s Air Quality Strategy in 2019.
Outdoor air pollution is a major environmental human health hazard and is recognised as a cause of chronic conditions and mortality worldwide.
Professor Richard Atkinson and his colleagues have been studying the health effects of air pollution at St George’s since the mid-1990s.
Their research has found associations between exposure to outdoor air pollution and a range of health outcomes.
In the UK, the major source of particulate and gaseous air pollution is combustion of fossil fuels, particularly from traffic in urban areas.
As an expert in this field, Professor Atkinson was a long-standing member of the UK Government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP), providing epidemiological advice and reviewing evidence.
Together with colleagues, his research has played an important role in influencing policy decisions around options for reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions, underpinning the UK Government’s Air Quality Strategy in 2019.
Professor Atkinson and colleagues ’s research has also enabled the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to calculate the estimated monetary benefits of increased life expectancy associated with the Government’s plans for Clean Air Zones.
These plans include practical interventions to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels, such as reducing speed limits and upgrading transport fleets.
More recently, Professor Atkinson and colleagues in PHRI have also undertaken a detailed review of the epidemiological evidence for the WHO in support of their revision of Air Quality Guidelines.