Air pollution and health

Air pollution is estimated to contribute to 36,000 premature deaths in the UK every year.

In Bristol, exposure to nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter contributes to 300 deaths a year. With roughly an equal number attributable to both pollutants. This represents about 8.5% of deaths in Bristol where air pollution is a contributing factor.

Health effects caused by air pollution include:

  • low birth weight of babies
  • impaired lung development in small children
  • smaller lungs
  • a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease
  • acute respiratory exacerbation
  • premature death

The cost of air pollution

The annual health cost to society of the impacts of particulate matter alone in the UK is estimated to be around £16 billion and in Bristol is estimated at £83m.

A recent Health Matters report from Public England details the health impacts that air pollution can have across a person’s lifetime and the associated health inequalities.