The effect of air pollution on health and mortality

Status: Active

This project will investigate the effect of ambient air pollution exposure on health in Northern Ireland. 

The data

Researchers will link data from the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS) with prescriptions data from the Enhanced Prescriptions Database (EPD). Health measurements at the level of the individual include self-reported health status gathered at the 2011 Census, death events recorded by the General Register Office for Northern Ireland, and receipt of prescriptions for various health conditions (cardiovascular- and respiratory-related illnesses, dementia, Parkinsonism, and diabetes) from routinely collected administrative data. Pollution exposure is given as the annual average level of ambient air pollution at an individual’s area of residence. These data are available at a 1x1 km grid square resolution for up to eight separate pollutants between 2001 and 2016, allowing measures of cumulative pollution exposure to be constructed for the subjects of the study. 

The potential

This project will provide ground-breaking estimates of the individual-level health costs of air pollution in Northern Ireland. The use of linked prescriptions data permits an examination of the link between pollution exposure and less frequently studied health conditions such as diabetes, dementia, and Parkinsonism, offering the potential for a wider contribution to our understanding of the health effects of air pollution.

Project lead

Professor Duncan McVicar, Queen’s University Belfast (ADR Northern Ireland).

This project is funded by ADR Northern Ireland via its core grant from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) as an ADR UK partner.

Update: The research team has developed an interactive air pollution map of Northern Ireland which allows users to explore how levels of air pollution in their local area have changed through time. This tool empowers the public to understand the levels of air pollution in their communities and how this could impact their lives. 

Categories: Research using linked data, ADR Northern Ireland, Climate & sustainability, Health & wellbeing

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