Birmingham experts join forces in global fight for clean air

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Ambassador of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to UNESCO Matthew Lodge launches the new research theme of clean air.

Experts at the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Global Innovation (IGI) have launched a new multi-disciplinary research theme around clean air that could help to save millions of lives around the world.

Air pollution is the largest environmental cause of non-communicable disease. Poor air quality leads to some 8 million premature deaths around the world every year - more than malaria and HIV-AIDS combined.

In the UK, outdoor air pollution leads to around 34,000 annual deaths - reducing average life expectancy by four to six months and bringing associated economic costs of around £20 billion per year.

Working closely with the University’s Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS), the new Clean Air theme unites world-leading atmospheric scientists, clinicians, economic geographers, transport specialists and social scientists to develop holistic solutions to air pollution.

Ambassador of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to UNESCO Matthew Lodge launched the new research theme at a special event at the IGI-IAS centre on campus, ahead of delivering a keynote speech at the University Annual Meeting.

Matthew Lodge commented: “UNESCO believes in bringing together broad ranges of perspectives and expertise that advance our ability to solve pressing global challenges. The University of Birmingham shares our commitment to solving global challenges and is making an important and meaningful contribution to international cultural and scientific co-operation.

The IGI research team will focus on indoor and outdoor air quality with its studies providing insights relevant to both the UK and Low- and Middle-income Countries (LMIC).

IGI-IAS Director Professor Hisham Mehanna commented: “There is a real buzz about interdisciplinary research taking place at the IGI-IAS and we are already seeing the fruits of our labour – particularly in areas such as in Gender Inequality, Water, Cities and Transnational Crime.

“It is those successes, and the impact that they have on the most vulnerable people around the world, that inspires all of us to do even more. With that in mind, we are broadening our horizons even further and it is wonderful to introduce a new emerging theme – Clean Air - to our portfolio.”

Notes to editors:

  • For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.  The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • It hosts the Institute for Global Innovation (IGI), a research institute focused on world-leading, multi- and inter-disciplinary research that seeks to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
  • The IGI’s research themes revolve around understanding and finding solutions to factors that challenge, and sometimes threaten, the sustainability and resilience of individuals, communities, societies, and the world as a whole.
  • IGI’s main themes now include clean air, resilient cities, water challenges in a changing world, gender inequality, and 21st century transnational crime. IGI’s emerging themes include clean cooling, antimicrobial resistance, and ageing and frailty.