Climate change and air pollution

Predicting the impact of climate change on air pollution is difficult. According to the UK Department of Health future ambient concentrations of air pollutants which are hazardous to health will depend both on trends in emissions of primary and precursor pollutants and on trends in meteorological factors which affect dispersal of pollutants and secondary chemical atmospheric processes. Here in the UK it is predicted that the weather conditions associated with winter air pollution episodes will become less common while the weather conditions associated with summer episodes will increase in frequency and intensity. Elsewhere there are concerns about an increase in forest fires releasing pollutants and an increase in dust storms leading to mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

Information sources

UK Government reports

Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2012
Current evidence, recommendations and research gaps
Sotiris Vardoulakis and Clare Heaviside (Editors)
Health Protection Agency, September 2012
Chapter 3. Health effects due to changes in air pollution under future scenarios

Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK - An expert review for comment
Report of the Expert Group on Climate Change and Health in the UK
Dept of Health. 2001. 290 pp
Chapter 4.7. Air pollution and climate change. pp 219-250

Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2008 – an update of the Department of Health Report 2001/2002
Dept of Health. 2008. 113 pp
Chapter 7. The health impact of climate change due to changes in air pollution.
pp 91-97

Air Pollution: Action in a Changing Climate
DEFRA. March 2010. 23 pp
Policy document summarising the main issues concerning air pollution and outlining the ways in which the interconnections between measures to address air pollution and climate change can be maximised.  

Air Quality and Climate Change: A UK Perspective
Air Quality Expert Group. 2007. 317 pp 

International reports

Protecting health in Europe from climate change
Edited by Bettina Menne, Franklin Apfel, Sari Kovats and Francesca Racioppi
WHO Europe 2008, 51 pages
ISBN 978 92 890 7187 1
Reducing respiratory disease. pp 26-27 

A Human Health Perspective On Climate Change
A report outlining the research needs on the human health effects of climate change
NIEHS 2010
Asthma, Respiratory Allergies, and Airway Diseases. pp 13-15

Air Pollution and Climate Change
Science for Environment Policy. Special issue. Issue 24. November 2010
European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service.

NGO reports

Climate Change and its Health Implications
A summary report for environmental health practitioners on the health implications of climate change
CIEH. November 2008
Para 7.2. Health effects of air pollution with a changing climate


The Health Practitioners Guide to Climate Change
Ed. Jenny Griffiths; Mala Rao; Fiona Adshead; Allison Thorpe
Publisher: Earthscan. 2009. 380 pp. ISBN: 978-1-84407-729-8
Air quality and disease. pp 43-44

Link to Earthscan publications via Routledge  

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