Population Outcome: People in Suffolk and North East Essex live in Good Environments
Having clean air, Sustainable products, practices and travel options are important to the population having good health. Air pollution, in particular, has a significant effect on public health, and poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK.
Mortality data - the contribution of air pollution
- Air pollution causes the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and lung cancer, exacerbates asthma and has a contributory role in mortality.
- The annual burden of air pollution in the UK has been estimated to be equivalent to approximately 28,000-36,000 deaths at typical ages and an associated loss of population life of 328,000-416,000 life years lost.
- Air pollution particularly affects people living in polluted areas, those who are exposed to higher levels of air pollution in their day-to-day lives, and
- those who are more susceptible to health problems caused by air
- pollution, widening health inequalities.
Impact of changes in UK weather
Source: Met Office
The Story Behind the Outcome
Sustainability and Climate Change
- Effects of extreme weather, such as heatwaves, flooding, wildfire, storms and drought on physical and mental health (for example injuries and trauma, heat-related illness). Such events are expected to increase in frequency and severity in coming years.
- Effects on the planet’s life-support systems, such as rising sea levels and safe water availability, changing patterns of zoonotic and vector-borne disease (for example malaria, dengue fever), reduced pollination and crop failure leading to food shortages.
- Effects mediated by social systems, such as livelihood loss, rising prices of food and fuel, supply chain disruption, pressure on health and care services, conflict or forced migration.
Our climate impacts many areas of our lives:
Transport – causes air pollution, and our reliance on road travel has led us to be less active.
Housing – inefficient use of energy in homes and rising fuel costs leads to fuel poverty and cold homes, which increases the risks of heart attack and stroke, respiratory illness, falls, accidents and mental illness. Warmer temperatures are a particular risk for the very young and very old, and those with chronic health conditions.
Food – the lack of a balanced diet, and the environmental impact of food production and supply, impacts people’s health.
Green spaces – access to green spaces improves mental health, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, encourages physical activity, and prevents social isolation; however deprived areas tend to have significantly less access to green spaces than affluent areas.
Social and health inequalities – deprived areas have poorer air quality, experience poor housing and fuel poverty, and have a higher flood risk.
OHID recommends health and care professionals:
- Make every contact count – take opportunities to talk to people who use services and their familes about ways to improve their health and impact the environment.
- Encourage people to use low emissions, active travel where possible.
- Help staff and people using services to reduce exposure to air pollution
- Advise vulnerable people how they can keep their homes at a reasonable temperature.
- Encourage a healthy diet, activity and access to green spaces.
OHID recommends that health and care professionals should:
- know the needs of individuals, communities and population and the services available
- consider the resources available in health and wellbeing systems and the potential impact of earlier diagnosis and better management
- understand specific activities which can prevent, protect, and promote public health
Health and care professionals could advise people to:
- limit or avoid any strenuous activity in high pollution episodes or areas, especially if they have sore eyes, throat or a cough
- increase the use of asthma relievers as necessary
- reduce exposure to highly polluted outdoor air by closing doors and windows during congested periods
- Informing individuals where to keep up to date with information sources such as air pollution helplines
Reducing the environmental impact of health and care
- Use low-carbon treatments, technologies and healthcare models where appropriate, for example lower-carbon inhalers for respiratory disease.
- Reduce the use of highly polluting anaesthetic gases.
- Reduce unnecessary use of resources, re-use, recycle and reduce waste wherever possible.
- Actively travel to or at work, using public transport where available, and avoid air travel wherever possible.
- Use communication technology when appropriate to reduce staff and patient travel.
- Embed sustainability into service quality improvement.
References & Further Reading
- State of the environment: health, people and the environment – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Evidence of impact of environment on health and health inequalities – Health and Sustainable Planning Toolkit (healthsustainabilityplanning.co.uk)
- The state of the environment: health, people and the environment (publishing.service.gov.uk)
- How do our surroundings influence our health?
- The UK environment – fighting pollution, improving our health and saving us money – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
- Understanding the health effects of climate change – UK Health Security Agency (blog.gov.uk)
- Climate and health | What we do | Wellcome
- fair-society-healthy-lives-full-report-pdf.pdf (instituteofhealthequity.org)
What we know matters and why
|I can minimise the impact of air pollution and climate change on my health||Support to minimise exposure to air pollution and extreme temperatures helps me to stay well.|
|I can access the care I need even in extreme weather events||Designing and adapting health and care settings to cope with extreme heat, cold, wind and flooding means I can still get the care I need when I need it.|
|I can minimise my impact on the environment||Access to lower carbon treatments and technologies means my carbon footprint is reduced.|
Health and care providers recycling and reusing, and reducing waste, means my healthcare is more environmentally sustainable.
Having services available more locally or online reduces my need to travel, and where possible I can walk, cycle or use public transport instead.
|I know my health and care is environmentally sustainable||Reduced and greener staff travel reduces their carbon footprint. |
Equipment and facilities that are reusable and recyclable reduces waste.
Energy-efficient buildings reduce their carbon footprint and air pollution.
How will things be different in Suffolk and North East Essex
|We will co-produce the advice and support people at risk need to reduce the health impacts of climate change and air pollution.||We will support and buy from organisations with environmentally sustainable products and ways of working.|
|We will ensure health and care services and buildings are accessible to those who need them even in extreme weather events.||We will take measures to achieve cleaner air, for example in usage of medical gases, reducing staff and patient travel, and encourage use of active travel and greener vehicles.|
|We will operate in a greener way, reducing our waste and reusing and recycling wherever possible.||We will ensure new buildings are more energy efficient.|
Case Studies – how we are making progress across Suffolk & North East Essex
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Place Case Studies Here
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