Timothy Coker - Modelling the epidemiological and economic impacts of air pollution reduction in the English metropolitan borough of Sandwell

  • Presenting author: Timothy Coker (HealthLumen)

  • Authors: Timothy Coker, Richard Hargreaves, Anna Stewart, Jonathan Freeman, Jade Shermer, David Green, Lizzie Atkin, Errol Kruger, Kate Barnard, Laura Webber, Lise Retat

  • Session: B03D - Environment - Tuesday 14:00-15:30 - Erika-Weinzierl Hall

  • Slides: PDF


Air pollution is a driver of many non-communicable diseases including asthma, stroke, coronary heart disease and lung cancer. Initiatives to reduce road emissions would therefore have a beneficial impact on population health, as well as avoid future costs to the local health services. The aim of this study was to quantify the impact of reduced air pollution (specifically nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5)) on health and economic outcomes in the English metropolitan borough of Sandwell.


We adapted a validated microsimulation model to estimate NO2 and PM2.5-associated disease burden using local demographic and air pollution data, as well as epidemiological data (including relative risks) and direct healthcare cost data from the scientific literature. For each pollutant, we modelled two scenarios: (i) a baseline (“no change/inaction”) scenario, and (ii) a policy/behaviour change scenario in which we assume a decline in PM2.5/NO2 over five years [2023-27 inclusive], based on evidence of declining pollutant concentrations in London. The two scenarios were compared to estimate benefits of policy/behaviour change.


By 2033, reduction in the two pollutants was projected to result in over 4,100 fewer cumulative incident cases of disease (1.2% of the total population), as well as 5,500 additional quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and 800 additional years of working life in the Sandwell population. These health benefits would lead to about £37 million in health costs avoided.


This study shows the beneficial health and economic impact that reduced air pollution can have on local health and economic outcomes. By estimating the increase in working life years and QALYs, a local societal perspective would cover additional increases in both, community wealth and economic impact. The model may be adapted in future to make similar predictions for other local authorities.