PHD Project

October 11, 2023

The Pollution-Climate-Health Dilemma: Cleaner Air but Poorer Health Outcomes under a Changing Climate?

Orange glow over city

In the UK, air pollution has been identified as the largest environmental risk to public health, causing between 28-36,000 deaths per year. The WHO have stated that 99% of the world’s population are exposed to air quality that fails to meet their Guideline limits. Health impacts, such as hospital admissions or increased GP visits, can occur due to long term (chronic) or short term (episodic) exposure. Responses to pollution episodes are easier to identify. Although emissions of anthropogenic air pollutants in the UK have declined dramatically (many by >70% since 1990), pollution episodes still occur in winter, spring and summer and adverse health outcomes, particularly in relation to cardiovascular disease continue to occur. Public perceptions are that the health impacts of air pollution may be getting rather than worse. There is some evidence to indicate that the timing and chemical composition of pollution episodes is occurring, possibly due to a combination of climate change and the changing nature of emissions.  It has been suggested that changes in the chemical composition of episodes is reducing the benefits of overall reductions in emissions. Likewise, climate change may increase the frequency and duration of spring and summer episodes. This complex interaction of pollution, climate and health poses a dilemma. Supported by an interdisciplinary team of supervisors (including an NHS clinician) and external advisors, this PhD will investigate this dilemma through combining data on air pollution composition, pollution episodes, modelling, and health outcomes data. Past trends will be used to inform estimates of possible future change and help to inform NHS planning. The successful candidate will receive training from partners at CERC consultancy and RDScientific.


Candidates shall be good honours graduates in appropriate subject areas, of a recognised university or comparable university, or persons holding equivalent qualifications who show evidence of exceptional ability, or who have demonstrated their ability in graduate studies.

We would particularly welcome applications from those with backgrounds in Environmental Science, Geography or Chemistry.

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