A project quantifying the health and economic impact of NO2 and PM2.5 in Birmingham City .
UK100 has asked the Environment Research Group (ERG) at King’s College London (King’s) to help produce a Health Impact assessment and economic assessment of Birmingham City formed of ten parliamentary constituencies (Edgbaston, Erdington, Hall Green, Hodge Hill, Ladywood, Northfield, Perry Barr, Selly Oak, Yardley and Sutton Coldfield). To do this, ERG first downloaded the air quality data in Birmingham, which then, combined with relationships between concentrations and health outcomes, were used to calculate the impacts on health from the air pollution emitted in each constituency.
Mortality impact (long –term exposure)
The population in Birmingham would gain around 440,000 life years over a lifetime to 2134 if air pollution concentrations improved as projected from 2011 to 2030, compared with remaining at 2011 concentrations. The average life expectancy of a child born in Birmingham in 2011 would improve by around 2.5 to 4 months for the same comparison.
s Taking into account the UK Government’s projected future changes in air pollution concentrations from 2011 to 2030, the population would still be losing between 0.3 to 0.8 million life years after these air pollution changes in Birmingham (a life year is one person living for one year). Put another way, children born in 2011 are still estimated to die 2-7 months early on average, if exposed over their lifetimes to the projected future air pollution concentrations in Birmingham. Males are more affected than females. This is due to the fact that men have higher death rates and die earlier than women.
The monetized benefits over a lifetime of improvements to future anthropogenic PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations, compared with 2011 concentrations remaining unchanged, has been estimated to be up to £240 million on average/year (at 2014 prices).
Despite the projected future improvements in air pollution concentrations from 2011 to 2030, the economic health impact costs in Birmingham over a lifetime are still between £190 - £470 million on average per year.
Economists assign monetary values to the health benefits of reducing air pollution in cost-benefit analysis in order to compare with the costs of implementing a package of policies. They are not actual costs but a measure of the amount of money society believes it would be reasonable to spend on policies to reduce air pollution (to avoid the adverse health effects of the remaining pollution) or was reasonable to have spent on policies that have already reduced air pollution.
Mortality burden (long –term exposure)
Mortality burden calculations are a simplified calculation at one point in time. They are not suitable for analysing several years in succession because they do not have a mechanism for allowing the number of deaths the year before to influence the age and population size the following year (lifetables do this, see impact calculations above). Nonetheless, they provide a useful feel for the size of the air pollution problem. In 2011 in Birmingham the equivalent of between 570 to 709 deaths are estimated to be attributable to air pollution (anthropogenic PM2.5 and NO2). These deaths occur mostly at older ages, as is typical for deaths in the general population.
Dr David Dajnak
James David Smith
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