Our Work Packages and Scoping Groups

Summary

The CleanAir4V network is lead by Dr Christian Pfrang and is separated into six work packages that together form our interdisciplinary network. These cover the fundamental research areas and themes that will lead to Air Pollution Solutions for Vulnerable Groups (VGs). The focus and topic of each work package (WP) can be found in the sections below along with details of our scoping groups (SG) which link the WP and our network to the 5 other UK networks. A more detailed overview of each WP and SG is provided by expanding each section.  Dr Christian Pfrang explains more about our workpackages and how they link in the video below. 

CleanAir4V work package and scoping group linkages

WP1: Understanding Air Quality Challenges for Vulnerable Groups and Key Indoor/Outdoor Interfaces

Leads: Professor Neil Harris (Cranfield University) & Environment Agency

WP1 is primarily focused on the air pollutants PM1, ultrafine PM and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). This WP reviews the current understanding on the sources of air pollution exposure in vulnerable groups (VGs) to these air pollutants, which differ from those of the overall population. WP1 also evaluates the challenges and research gaps in future air pollution exposure to the vulnerable groups. 

WP1 works with contacts within and beyond the network to explore source & measurement strategies for air pollution exposure from PM1, ultrafine PM and VOCs at the indoor/outdoor interface (IOI) to VGs'. This is focused particularly on nurseries and schools for VGI; hospitals for VGII; and homes and transport hot spots for both VGs. The WP also assesses the current understanding, challenges and gaps in air quality experience of VGs, who are exposed to different AQ stresses than the general population due to differing levels of mobility, range of activities & primary locations. In WP1 there is also horizon scanning exercises to evaluate which future pollutants will become important in determining VGs' exposure, e.g. changes in road transport (brakes & road/tyre wear from electric vehicles), household products & cooking techniques. 

WP2: Behaviour Interventions

Leads: Dr Lukasz Walasek (The University of Warwick), Professor Caroline Meyer (The University of Warwick) & West Midland Combined Authority

WP2 brings together experts and practitioner to scope for potential strategies to reduce air pollution exposure to vulnerable groups (VGs') using behavioral interventions. This WP is also working towards identifying psychological and institutional barriers that prevent adoption of healthier behaviours, and establishing future research priorities in behaviour interventions. 

WP2 achieves this by reviewing potential behaviour interventions for reducing air pollution using psychology and emerging technology (new sensors; “smart home”) considering actions of both VGs and carers, and assessing how psychological theory of behavioural change can be used to design a realistic and testable set of effective intervention strategies. Key focus is on leveraging the power of nudges – easy, attractive, social and timely interventions to combat the air quality challenges identified in WP1. Nudges stand in contrast to the often ineffective, educational campaigns that dominated public policy approach for years. Instead, nudges encourage change in choice architecture to facilitate welfare maximizing choices. Nudge theory can be utilised in combination with technology interventions (WP3) to steer VGs' towards decisions that minimize their risk of being exposed to air pollution. Such interventions could utilise the power of social norms, social incentives, (mis)perceptions of probability, or commitment devices. This WP will be informed by WPs 1 & 3 and refined in evaluation stages (WPs 4 & 5). The iterative process embeds the fundamental properties of behavioural change, whereby any intervention is personalized to the specific population and reflects the realities of the environment in which it is deployed to deliver the interventions.   

WP3:Technology Interventions: innovative across-scale measures for better air quality

Leads: Dr Zhiwen (Vincent) Luo (University of Reading) & Urban Generation

WP3 is continually building a scoping group on air quality technology intervention and exploring and identifying the key intervention technologies at multiple scales and exposure pathway stages employed by different users/sectors. This WP is establishing opportunities and identifying barriers of implementation of technological interventions in the real world which informs new research and development models for developing future innovative intervention technologies. 

WP3 brings together academic researchers, policy makers, designers, practitioners, and the wider community to explore and advance the existing and emerging technology interventions employed by various sectors (government, public organization, industry, users etc.) at multiple scales (i.e. personal, building & urban scales), for improving air quality and reducing exposure of the vulnerable groups at Indoor/Outdoor interfaces. The interventions consider the following various exposure pathways. Examples include: smart transportation management for urban emission reduction, green building material for indoor emission control, urban ventilation design for better dispersion, optimizing building ventilation design and utilization of air purifier for controlling indoor air quality and active indoor green walls. With WP2 on behaviour intervention, WP3 feeds into WPs 4 & 5 to evaluate health & economic benefits of interventions. 

WP4: Air Quaility & Health Benefits of Interventions

Leads: Professor Alice Turner (University of Birmingham), British Lung Foundation & British Thoracic Society 

WP4 works with academics, health services and non-governmental organization (NGOs) to evaluate the evidence on the benefits of air pollution interventions for vulnerable groups (VGs'). This WP also identifies the challenges and research gaps in quantifying the improvements in health as a result of various air pollution inventions. 

WP4 hosts and builds a network of individuals able to evaluate the health impact of technology and behaviour interventions aimed at reducing the VGs’ exposure to poor air quality. WPs 1–3 feed into WP4 such that perspectives from atmospheric scientists, engineers and psychologists are available to frame topic guides for focus groups comprised of VGs put together in conjunction with our co-leads. We anticipate that hospital admissions will be a key issue for the VGs, however long-term decline of lung function may also be of key concern. We are engaging with clinicians and policy makers starting from our kick-off meeting, and use their perspectives, alongside those generated in WPs 1–3, to inform topics to present to VGs during a 2-day workshop. We are surveying key health outcomes to be assessed in future studies of behaviour and/or technology interventions identified in WPs 2–3.

WP5:Economic Costs & Benefits of Interventions

Leads: Dr Jing Meng (UCL) & Coventry City Council 

WP5 works collaboratively with academics and stakeholders to review current knowledge on direct and indirect cost/benefits of behaviour and technology interventions to reduce exposure to poor air quality (AQ) for vulnerable groups (VGs). WP5 is also establishing the future research priorities in cost benefits analysis of air pollution (AP) interventions. WP5 works closely with WPs 2–4 to identify key gaps/challenges in the cost/benefit analysis of the proposed interventions for VGs. 

WP is establishing the financial implications of health impacts identified by WP4, but also considers non-health related economic costs & benefits (e.g. competing interests of energy efficient vs. well ventilated homes). WP5 is thus developing a new network able to quantify the potential of behaviour and technology interventions to improve the relation between vulnerability, health and economic consequences, i.e. to establish practical AQ solutions for VGs. WP5 delivers recommendations regarding integrated policy design and delivers an assessment for policy cost-effectiveness. To achieve this, we are initiating efforts to (i) utilise techno-economic inventories for anti-pollution measures to conduct micro cost-benefit analysis of new policies; (ii) quantitatively assess health and macroeconomic costs and benefits in mitigating air pollution; and (iii) transform evidence generated into practical emission alleviation pathways. Back-of-the-envelope calculations are being used to identify the interventions to be tested in the pilot study (PI/PII) and motivate/justify follow-on in-depth studies of the economic consequences of AP exposure of VGs in the UK. 

WP6: Policy Recommendation, Stakeholder Impact & Planning Incl. Building Environment & Regulations

Leads: Professor Roy Harrison (University of Birmingham), Arup & Connected Places Catapult 

WP6 brings together an audience of stakeholders from the wider industry to engage with findings and/or proposals generated by the network. The WP fosters partnerships, disseminates ideas and insights, and identifies specific areas where Connected Places Catapult (CPC) can directly intervene to influence positive change. 

WP6 is primarily focus on stakeholder impact and business engagement. Professor Roy Harrison and Arup are co-leading in years 1–2 with CPC joining in critical year 3. This approach will move towards direct engagement with decision makers to ensure implementation of the vulnerable groups (VGs) air pollution solutions given CPC’s remit to develop collaborations and form partnerships across academia, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), industry, and other key stakeholders on challenges to UK business and productivity such as air pollution. CPC’s Market Intelligence team are creating thought-leading content on key air quality trends, challenges and developments, to help spread thinking and ideas. CPC’s Insight and Service Design team are also designing and delivering events to engage the wider industry network in air quality, and inform on findings & topics emerging from our network. We will also be inviting specifically representatives of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government responsible for setting building regulations to ensure alignment of our position paper with their needs. 

Cross-WP Scoping Group

Lead: Professor Zongbo Shi (University of Birmingham)

The Cross-WP Scoping Group (SG) is working with other WP leads to identify the cross-disciplinary research gaps and develop solutions and proposal ideas based on the network’s findings. 

This SG is working with all participants to conclude on key challenges and develop proposal ideas based on network findings; it synthesises the research needs and practical solutions established in WPs 1–6. We are (i) systematically evaluating challenges in improving air quality (AQ) for vulnerable groups (VGs), integrating knowledge gaps identified within the WPs; the group will work closely during a writing retreat to review identified gaps and bring them together to form a coherent view on the most urgent research needs and solution options; (ii) identify and respond dynamically to funding opportunities (incl. Clean Air SPF Wave 2, Welcome, UKPRP & NIHR); future funding opportunities in clean air & health are anticipated and the network is prepared to respond to those proactively; (iii) prepare cross disciplinary proposals to standard grant schemes by identifying novel research areas that can fit into grant schemes of NERC/EPSRC/MRC; we are creating opportunities for networking activities that identify areas of interest; and (iv) suggest to UKRI funders and Clean Air Champions on potential calls to deliver the science for welfare and health improvement with economic benefit; we are working with NERC to propose potential funding bids for the collective fund &and once an area of urgent need is identified we will work closely with other networks via the Cross-Network SG to enable wider debate and participation.

As part of this SG, we will also be carrying out a pilot study informed by insight gained in WPs 1–6 deploying existing instruments at key Indoor/Outdoor Interfaces (IOIs) with and without the interventions (e.g. innovative ventilation approaches or active indoor green walls) implemented.

 

Pilot study: a 3-month pilot study will target VGs and will be directly building on findings from WPs 1–6: Phase I will involve VGI & VGII who will be surveyed by questionnaires and an indication of air pollution exposure will be established using wearable sensors. Phase II: will focus on 3 key Indoor/Outdoor Interface (IOI) pollution hot spots which will be identified for each individual based on Phase I. Measurements of PM1, ultrafine PM and VOCs will be made with/without identified interventions implemented. This pilot study will involve public engagement via live tweets & PR channels available within the established network (supported by stakeholder channels). The final element of the pilot study will give sensors to public for follow-on citizen science. 

Cross-Network Scoping Group

Lead: Professor Ruth Doherty (The University of Edinburgh)

This Scoping Group (SG) is facilitating collaboration amongst the SPF Clean Air Program networks to share knowledge on research questions/knowledge gaps at Indoor/Outdoor interfaces (IOIs) and identifying cross-network multi- and interdisciplinary research priorities that can be fed back to UKRI. This SG is also establishing UK capacity for international funding opportunities to generate new findings on air quality (AQ) at the IOI. 

This SG is establishing UK research capacity and opportunity for funding by closely liaising with the Cross-WP SG activities.  The SG also benefits from a number of network members being involved in other networks (as Co-Is or PIs) ensuring interaction with the other networks to our networks' conclusion. The Cross-Network SG is establishing how NERC-funded research and expertise on outdoor AQ can be utilised for studying the IOIs; (ii) is building new collaborative research e.g. between traditional NERC-funded research on AQ and EPSRC-funded research on the built environment bringing together new communities; (iii) extending this to the health and economic communities to assess health impacts across a range of outcomes and across populations groups; (iv) identifying technologies and capabilities needed to foster this research; and (v)establishing how to train early career scientists to engage in increasingly critical multi-disciplinary research. 

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