2 March 2018 16:55

People in deprived groups suffer most from the health impact of air pollution, says Lancaster professor leading on inequalities theme in Chief Medical Officer’s report

Pollution tends to cause most harm to people in more socially deprived groups, according to the annual report of England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Professor Dame Sally Davies.

The report, Health Impacts of All Pollution - what do we know?, says that pollution is driving chronic sickness and must be recognised as a health risk.

Professor Gordon Walker, from the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University, was the lead author on the chapter in the report dealing with pollution and equality.

“Pollution and health inequalities are both serious problems in their own right, but they are also interconnected,” explains Gordon, an authority on environmental justice.

“It is important that we focus on how vulnerability to pollution impacts is unevenly experienced by different groups in society.

“The research base is limited but for air quality at least we do know that more pollution sources and higher concentrations are typically found in more socially disadvantaged areas.

“More research on inequality and justice is needed, but there is also a need for policy and action to focus now on pollution-poverty hotspots, to better assess how new sources of pollution can exacerbate existing health inequalities, and to make sure that regulatory measures do work for those most in need.”