Environment and Health

(Theme Leader: Neil Rowland)

Professor Duncan McVicar, Dr. Neil Rowland (NI Regional Clean Air champion), and Dr. Babak Jahanshahi are part of ADRC NI’s Environmental Health Research Group. They use linked administrative datasets to understand the impact of exposure to air pollution on health outcomes.

In the UK, air pollution is considered the largest environmental threat to public health, and ADRC-NI researchers in the Environmental Health group are seeking to assess its impact in Northern Ireland. Using a variety of linked administrative datasets, these researchers are assessing health effects across the life-course, providing the first ever region-specific evidence base for local policymakers. Among other questions, they are assessing whether (and if so, how) Particulate Matter 2.5 exposure affects the health of new-borns – important for understanding the inter-generational impacts of poor air quality. They are also assessing the impact of long-term exposure on the risk of developing dementia and Parkinsonism, illnesses which are expected to become significantly more prevalent through time. Evaluating the health benefits of pollution reduction measures will be vital for implementing effective policy and regulation, as Northern Ireland embarks on a Clean Air Strategy to improve air quality. In the context of mounting pressures to healthcare provision, the need to reduce environmental threats to public health become even more important.