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£3 million awarded to help tackle air pollution

22/07/2020

£3 million awarded to help tackle air pollution

The funding will support six multidisciplinary research networks that will address future air quality challenges at the indoor-outdoor interface.

UK Research and Innovation has awarded £3 million to support six research networks that will investigate solutions to air pollution.

Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK, according to DEFRA’s Clean Air Strategy. The new multidisciplinary networks will drive forward research and innovation to help tackle major air quality challenges within both indoor and outdoor spaces including home, school, work, and public transport.

The topics will include: exposure to airborne biological material; urban and building ventilation design; air quality impacts of decarbonisation and low emission transport; and protection for groups most at risk, including designing healthy schools.

Decarbonisation and the drive to net zero suggest future scenarios where road traffic pollution is reduced, new buildings become increasingly sealed for energy efficiency, and people spend more time indoors as they work and study at home using technology to stay connected. This will increase the importance and influence of indoor air pollution on outdoor air quality, and vice versa, and on our health.

Professor Stephen Holgate, a Strategic Priorities Fund Clean Air Programme Champion said:

“These six new research and innovation networks focused on cleaning up the air we breathe recognise the importance of the indoor environment, the total exposure of an individual and the sources of such pollutants as major drivers of adverse health. In bringing together atmospheric, health and behavioural sciences, the new interdisciplinary networks offer a unique opportunity for a new paradigm for translational research in this field to create solutions for the wicked problem that air pollution continues to create.”

Alison Cook, Director of External Affairs at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation said:

“Air pollution is bad for everyone but for the millions of people in the UK who live with a lung condition, it poses a real and immediate risk to their health. With tens of thousands of early deaths every year linked to exposure to poor air quality, it’s vital that we work together to fix this problem that disproportionately impacts certain groups, including the very young, older people and people with respiratory conditions. These awards will help to build a better understanding of how to tackle the threat caused by air pollution so that one day everyone can breathe clean air with healthy lungs.”

The six networks have been supported through the second wave of the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) Clean Air Programme. The Met Office will be working closely with the cohort of networks through their work on the Clean Air Programme.

Further information

The Clean Air programme is jointly delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Met Office, with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK, Medical Research Council (MRC), National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), Department for Transport (DfT), Scottish Government and Welsh Government.

Find out more about the Strategic Priorities Fund, including the two waves of the Clean Air Programme.

For further details on the SPF Clean Air Programme, please visit: UK Clean Air website.

DEFRA’s Clean Air Strategy is available on the gov.uk website.

Networks awarded funding

Indoor/outdoor Bioaerosols Interface and Relationships Network – BioAirNet
Frederic Coulon - Cranfield University
The aim of BioAirNet is to act as the leading voice for the UK BioPM science community by taking a transdisciplinary approach to understand the complexity and connectivity among people, BioPM exposure and the indoor-outdoor continuum.

Air Pollution Solutions for Vulnerable Groups (CleanAir4V)
Christian Pfrang - University of Birmingham
The aim of CleanAir4V is to develop innovative and cost-effective behaviour and technology interventions to reduce further air pollution exposure and improve health of vulnerable groups and implement these interventions through policy advice, planning and business innovation.

Breathing City: Future Urban Ventilation Network
Catherine Noakes - University of Leeds
The aim of Breathing City is to define a new integrated health evidenced approach to urban building design and technology innovation for vulnerable groups, by understanding how airflows transport pollutants in indoor and urban environments.

Tackling Air Pollution at School
Paul Linden - University of Cambridge
The aim of Tackling Air Pollution at School is to bring together interdisciplinary expertise to develop the research base to design and operate healthy schools in the environment of the future.

The health and equity impacts of climate change mitigation measures on indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure (HEICCAM)
Ruth Doherty - University of Edinburgh
The aim of HEICCAM is to strengthen evidence to optimise the health and equity impacts of changes in air pollution at the indoor/outdoor interface as we transition to a low carbon future.

Optimising air quality and health benefits associated with a low-emission transport and mobility revolution in the UK
Suzanne Bartington - University of Birmingham
The aim of the TRANSITION network is to identify, prioritise and tackle indoor and outdoor air quality challenges linked to the UK low emission mobility revolution, bringing together academics, researchers, policymakers, business, civil society and the wider general public.


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