Luciana Berger – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Luciana Berger on 2014-06-10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, with reference to the Answer of 8 April 2014, Official Report, column 178W, from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, on air pollution, for what reasons an assessment has not been made of the deaths caused by short-term exposures to elevated levels of air pollutants in the years since 2010.

Jane Ellison

Estimates of deaths attributable to long-term exposure to particulate air pollution in United Kingdom local authorities in 2010 were published by Public Health England in April 2014. The mortality burden for the UK was estimated as an effect equivalent to nearly 29,000 deaths.

Public Health England does not routinely estimate the deaths associated with short-term exposure to elevated levels of air pollutants, as these effects are thought to overlap with the mortality effects of long-term exposure to air pollution. Long-term exposure to air pollution is understood to be a contributory factor to deaths from respiratory and, particularly, cardiovascular disease, for example, unlikely to be the sole cause of deaths of individuals. This means that it is likely that air pollution contributes a smaller amount to the deaths of a larger number of exposed individuals rather than being solely responsible for a number of deaths equivalent to the calculated figure of ‘attributable deaths’.