Air quality: Costs and benefits associated with emissions: case study exploring the health impacts of West Yorkshire Low Emission Zone (Air Quality)

The health benefits from policies that improve air quality

According to a 2016 Royal College of Physicians report, 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution, each year in the UK. There is a burgeoning availability of evidence surrounding the link between exposure to poor air quality and its effects on health, in terms of health-related quality of life and increased mortality risk. Our research provides evidence on the value of health benefits resulting from policies that improve air quality that can be compared against the cost of the intervention itself. Specifically, if value was assessed in the same way as with a new drug, would a transport intervention, such as a low emission zone or clean air zone, be judged to be a cost-effective use of resources?

The collaboration is formed of HEOM researchers at University of York; other academics at University of Leeds and Centre de Recerca en Epidmiologia Ambiental (Barcelona); analysts from Yorkshire and Humber local authorities and Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), and academic and consultant environmental economists. Results from our collaborative work have been used to inform applications to the Clean Bus Technology Fund and as part of a public document regarding the West Yorkshire Low Emission Zone.

Our research is published in BMJ Open and this publication forms the basis of a toolkit that we have developed for use by local authorities to help provide an evidence base with which to analyse possible policies that improve air quality. The toolkit is called Cost-effectiveness of Air PolluTiOn Reduction model (CAPTOR) and a workshop was hosted in April 2016 where positive feedback was obtained on an initial beta version from analysts and decision-makers from Yorkshire and Humber local authorities in public health and environmental teams along with participants representing consultancy and academia.

The BMJ Open publication is available here (open access):

The beta version of the CAPTOR toolkit can be found online using this link.

Contact: James Lomas I