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Approved research

Investigating the relationship between air quality and health outcomes.

Principal Investigator: Mr Thomas Pinder
Approved Research ID: 46432
Approval date: May 30th 2019

Lay summary

In recent years there has been a growing concern over the potential health effects that can arise from exposure to poor air quality. To answer such questions there has been growing body of research being produced that aims to answer these concerns, however, there has been a lack of significant studies into the effects of air quality on cognitive health. Within this project, we aim to develop new statistical techniques to handle the high-dimensional nature of spatiotemporal data and genomic Biobank data which will, in turn, allow for the cognitive effects of air quality to be measured. A secondary aim of this work will be to package up the computational aspects of these methods into an open-source software library. This would accelerate the diffusion of our work through the wider environmental and statistical community by allowing anyone to extend and incorporate our work into his or her own. Although the existing literature surrounding these aims is still in its infancy, there has been some promising early work. One such example is Barbara Maher of Lancaster University who has been able to show that, from an environmental perspective, certain measurable pollutants within in the atmosphere have the chemical potential to enter the human brain. Once in the brain, these pollutants can ameliorate the production of reactive oxygen species, a known accelerant of the onset of Alzheimer's disease. It is anticipated that most, if not all, of the above questions, will be answered within the next three years to satisfy my personal PhD requirements. The specific public health impact will be an advancement in our understanding of cognitive changes arising from air quality. This research can be used to allow healthcare professionals, environmental scientists and policymakers to make more informed decisions in their day-to-day work.