Students Staff

03 April 2014

Air pollution poses greatest environmental health risk

Professor Ian Colbeck

Professor Ian Colbeck.

Record levels of air pollution across parts of England have drawn nationwide attention to the health risks associated with poor air quality.

Essex Professor of Environmental Science, Ian Colbeck, has been at the forefront of the national media coverage.

School children, the elderly, people with asthma or heart, lung and respiratory problems, have been warned to stay indoors as pollution levels reached level 9 on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)’s scale of 1-10. Dust from the Sahara, emissions from continental Europe, and domestic pollution have caused air quality to plummet.

Professor Colbeck explained: “This pollution episode comes just a week after the World Health Organisation estimated that seven million premature deaths annually are linked to air pollution.

“It is now the biggest single environmental health risk. In the past, respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) were thought to be the main killers but it now emerges that heart disease and strokes account for up to 80% of deaths.”

The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and The Mirror were among national newspapers quoting Professor Colbeck, who is also being interviewed by LBC radio.

Professor Colbeck, who is Vice-President of the Aerosol Society, leads a wide spectrum of research from health impacts of both indoor and outdoor air pollution, to the physico-chemical properties of airborne particles and the impact of nanoparticles on the environment.

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