The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) has assessed the effects of particulate air pollution on mortality in the United Kingdom. The latest reports are available to be viewed at the following link:
Public Health England (PHE) estimated the mortality burden in 2010 associated with long-term exposure to human-made particulate air pollution at local authority level. The report is available at the following link:
COMEAP assessed the evidence on long-term exposure to ambient air pollutants (mainly particulate air pollution) and chronic bronchitis and respiratory symptoms. Although no separate assessments of the impact of the PM1 and PM0.1 fractions of particulate air pollution have been produced, PM1 and PM0.1 are included within the PM10 and PM2.5 fractions, on which assessments are usually based.
COMEAP is currently assessing the effects of air pollutants on dementia and cognitive decline. Research projects into the health effects of air pollution in two Health Protection Research Units, in which PHE is a partner, focus on various areas including health impact assessments of nanoparticles. There is also a COMEAP report on the mechanisms by which air pollutants affect cardiovascular health due to be published later this year.
PHE’s position is that well run and regulated modern Municipal Waste Incinerators (MWIs) are not a significant risk to public health. This view is based on detailed assessments of the effects of air pollutants on health and on the fact that modern MWIs make a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants.
When consulted, PHE provides an expert and independent opinion to the regulator (Environment Agency) on the potential impacts on human health of emissions arising from existing or proposed regulated facilities, such as MWIs. PHE will comment on the applicants’ risk assessments and how they demonstrate the installation’s impacts on human health, and when requested, any additional modelling and assessments conducted by the Environment Agency for chemicals and radiation including particulate matter and dioxins, providing health advice that is clear, concise and based on best available evidence and expert judgement. This assists the regulator in making decisions on whether or not to grant permits to regulated facilities. Guidance on PHE’s role in environmental permitting is available at the following link:
PHE has reviewed the evidence on the effects of waste incinerators on human health including the effects of dioxin. Further information is available at the following link:
Available studies have not identified a threshold concentration below which there is no association between exposure to particulate air pollution and adverse health effects. The European Union Limit Value for PM2.5 (annual mean of 25 µg/m3) that the UK must comply with is included as an air quality objective in the national Air Quality Strategy available at the following link: