Using novel data linkages to quantify the health impact of non-fossil fuel air pollution

Year of award: 2022


  • Dr Laura Horsfall

    University College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

The research aims to link national datasets containing clinical, environmental, and social information to address gaps in our knowledge of the health impact of non-fossil fuel air pollution. The three exposures of interest are 1) regular use of underground electrified transport (the London Underground), 2) mineral extraction sites, and 3) domestic wood burning. The outcomes of interest are respiratory health, mental health, cancer incidence, and mortality. My team and I will geographically link national datasets on these exposures with health outcomes from a representative sample of the UK. We will assess short-term symptoms (breathing difficulties, mental health) using primary care electronic health records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink with around 45 million people. Longer-term outcomes (cancer incidence, death) will be quantified using the ONS-Longitudinal Study of ~1 million people with 40-year follow-up. We will also send questionnaires to 250,000 participants of UK Biobank on London Underground use and exposure to domestic wood combustion and analyse the association of these exposures with lung function. The findings will help the public, health care professionals, government advisors, and other UK/International authorities to make informed decisions to maintain air quality and population health as we transition from fossil fuels.