Data published showing the proportion of deaths linked to air pollution in the UK, with London among the deadliest areas
Public Health England has today (April 10) published data detailing the fraction of deaths attributable to air pollution exposure for each local authority area within the UK.
The data shows the proportion of deaths attributable to current levels of man-made particulate air pollution range from around 2.5% in some areas of Scotland and Northern Ireland and between 3 and 5% in Wales, peaking at over 8% in some London boroughs.
But, according to Public Health England, some of the estimates could in fact be significantly higher, due to uncertainty of the increase in mortality risk associated with ambient PM2.5.
Unsurprisingly, London boroughs are among those with the highest proportion of deaths attributable to air pollution, with the boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster topping the table – both with 8.3% of deaths believed to be linked to air pollution.
And, the boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Wandsworth each have more than 100 estimated deaths per year linked to air pollution.
Outside of the capital, cities such as Leicester (6.6%), Nottingham (6.4%) and Birmingham (6.4%), are also particularly affected.
Among the least affected areas are the Outer Hebrides, where eight air pollution-linked deaths occur per year (2.4%), while the Orkney and Shetland Islands were also similarly low. Meanwhile, the data shows that Moyle was the cleanest borough in Northern Ireland and Gwynedd in Wales.
The West of England, including Devon and Cornwall was the region that had the lowest percentage of deaths from air pollution in England.
In total some 28,000 deaths nationwide per year are estimated to be linked to air pollution.
The report is intended to inform public health professionals and local authority air quality specialists seeking to raise awareness of mortality rates attributable to air pollution in their area. Estimates are based on modelled annual average concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in each local authority area, resulting from human activities.
Commenting on the report, Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis, PHE’s head of Air Pollution and Climate Change, said: “The report has been produced to inform public health professionals and air quality specialists in local authorities about the likely effects of particle air pollution on public health in the UK. The estimates are intended to help local authorities consider air pollution among other public health issues.
“Much outdoor air pollution comes from burning fuels to generate heat and electricity, and from vehicles. Measures that significantly reduce particulate air pollution or cut exposure would be regarded as important public health initiatives.”