Clean Air Theme

Working globally to improve air quality

Air pollution leads to over 7-8 million premature deaths annually worldwide. Within the UK alone, ambient (outdoor) air pollution leads to around 34,000 early deaths/year and reduces average life expectancy by up to six months, with associated direct and indirect economic costs on productivity and livelihoods approaching £20 billion. 

Poor air quality disproportionately impacts low- and middle-income nations, who face the dual challenge of achieving a sustainable development pathway and experiencing the greatest environmental, social and health inequalities across their populations. Delivering clean air solutions is essential for the protection of public health and achievement of environmental justice. It will also help us to progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to mitigating the challenges brought about by climate change.

The Clean Air theme spans countries including Rwanda and Mongolia to India and China, where we explore clean air interventions and policy solutions that can best benefit the population. Closer to home, we work in the UK and assist local, regional and national groups in adapting to new air pollution targets and mapping where interventions are most needed.

We create new, internationally leading and excellent interdisciplinary clean air research, publications and impact, drawing upon a track record of existing University of Birmingham academic, policy-focused and public engagement activities. 

Our collaborations with in-country experts, policy makers and industry allow us to co-design our projects with implementation in mind, and we strive to support emerging research ideas, offering opportunities to examine new pathways to cleaner air for all. 

Theme led by Professor Zongbo Shi and Dr Suzanne Bartington 

Workstream leads:

Air Pollution and Human Health – Dr Semira Manaseki-HollandProfessor Neil Thomas

Clean Air Solutions – Professor Aleks Cavoski,  Dr Jason Stafford

Indoor Air Quality – Professor Alice Turner

Engagement and Involvement – Professor John R. BrysonDr Emma Ferranti .

The University of Birmingham continues to grow its research capacity in air pollution and human health across the United Kingdom and in affected low- and middle-income countries worldwide. In doing so, it will play a vital role in providing the air quality data and science to inform policy-makers and protect the public health of citizens in the world’s emerging cities, supporting the emergence of low-pollution development models and clean air solutions. 

The quest for clean air

The will for political action on air pollution is not a new phenomenon. The urban smogs seen in the 1950s and 1960s were problematic enough to precipitate both vociferous public concern and Government action – leading to the first Clean Air Act in 1956.

Read the case study here

Also in 'Clean air'