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Developing communication methods for localised air quality and health impact information - AQ1010

There is a need to more effectively communicate the health impacts of air pollution. Current air pollutant concentrations – though low by historic levels – are believed to hasten the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the UK from particulates, with an order of magnitude greater impact on morbidity. Studies for DH in developing the Public Health Outcomes Framework indicate that PM2.5 is the sixth most important lever to improve public health in the UK. (Epidemiologists continue to improve their understanding of the effects of NO2 and other pollutants, so their health impacts may yet be quantified.)

There is a clear public health case for local action on air quality. Unitary and upper tier local authorities now have a duty to take steps to improve the health of people in their local areas. This new duty, together with the inclusion of the PM2.5 indicator in the Public Health Outcomes Framework, creates an excellent opportunity for that case to be made more effectively within local authorities and communities. Specifically, the reform of public health services means that Directors of Public Health (DPHs) have the potential to become key local champions of air quality improvement, by informing and influencing their peers in local transport, planning, sustainability and other departments, and by getting the message out to the general public.

To realise the potential for DPHs to act as local champions of air quality improvement, the Authority wishes to develop a communications Toolkit (with associated recommendations). The Toolkit has an important enabling role to play in a deeper cultural shift in the approaches taken by Local Authorities to air quality reduction: from a passive regulatory stance to one of active stakeholder engagement.
The aim of this project is to develop a set of recommendations and a communications Toolkit that can be used effectively to communicate the health effects of air pollution at a local level so that cost-effective local action on air pollution reduction is taken.

It must:

•enable the Authority and key national partners to raise awareness among DPHs of the health impacts of air pollution, and ensure that this evidence is properly used in local decision-making and prioritisation;
• enable and encourage DPHs to repeat this process with other local decision-makers, so they become champions within Local Authorities for air quality actions, such as those in Air Quality Action Plans
• enable and encourage DPHs and other local decision-makers to communicate the health impacts of air pollution to the general public (drawing on existing communications channels and expertise), to ensure acceptance of air quality related measures and promote behaviour change where necessary.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : AQ1010 Final Project Report   (555k)
• OTH - Other : Directors of Public Health Air Quality Toolkit   (1085k)
• TRP - Technical Report : AQ1010 Public Workshops Report   (364k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2014

Cost: £81,300
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Par Hill Research Ltd
Environmental policy              
Fields of Study
Air Quality