Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘MRC-PHE Centre for Environment & Health’

Braking perceptions of traffic pollution

Liza Selley won the Max Perutz writing prize 2016. Liza is a PhD student at Imperial College London studying the negative effects of brake dust emissions on human health and the economy. Here she shares her winning essay explaining why her research matters.maxp-winner

It’s been splashed across the papers – traffic pollution is a menace. Striking 30,000 of us each year with heart disease, respiratory illnesses and lung cancer, vehicle fumes kill four times as many people as car accidents and hospitalise a great many more. Read more

Five interesting things … from the postcode health atlas

A new environment and health atlas unveiled last week allows you to type in a postcode and see the community-level risk for developing 14 diseases, as well as the levels of common environmental agents. Here Dr Anna Hansell of Imperial College London explains five of the most interesting ― and surprising ― findings from the atlas.

Map of hours of sunshine in England and Wales

Image copyright: Imperial College London

Map of malignant melanoma risk in England and Wales

Image copyright: Imperial College London

One of the most exciting things about the atlas is the fine scale that we’ve managed to achieve by drilling down into small area-level data (around 6,000 people per area). People have mapped disease risk and environment factors before, but never at such a fine scale. While it shouldn’t be used to see what an individual’s risk is, it does allow us to see some surprising patterns, some of which are ripe for more research …

  1. Some diseases produce ‘flat maps’. Some diseases such as lung cancer, skin cancer, liver cancer, COPD and mesothelioma showed high levels of geographical variation (high levels in some areas and low in others). But common cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer showed very little geographical variation ― a ‘flat map’. This suggests that environmental factors that vary between areas are unlikely to play a large role in determining the risk for prostate or breast cancer. Read more