Centre for Environment and Health
What is the Medical Research Council - Health Protection Agency Centre for Environment and Health?
This is a new Centre, held jointly between Imperial College and King’s College London, which is adopting an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to environment and health. It involves leading scientists in environmental, respiratory and air pollution epidemiology, toxicology, exposure modelling, biostatistics and research on biomarkers.
(See story about some of the Centre's work on the LWEC website)
There are major public and public health concerns about the effects that the changing environment could have on our health.
Chronic exposure to potentially toxic substances in the environment is a fact of modern life. Chemicals and other physical agents in the environment are thought to contribute to various childhood and chronic diseases including reproductive effects, chest and heart problems, and several cancers.
In order to improve the understanding of how pollutants in the environment affect health a new approach is needed which more effectively combines data from epidemiological studies of large groups of people with toxicological studies.
What will the Centre do?
The Centre will integrate information from both large-scale epidemiological enquiries with detailed individual data on environmental exposures, susceptibility and biological effects in order to investigate important and emerging problems in environmental health.
Centre staff will combine the use of advanced geographical information systems and statistical modelling techniques, with experimental data, analysis of biomarkers, mechanistic studies and analyses of large population cohorts.
Research will include
a) method development, involving spatial and statistical modelling and environmental toxicology and mechanisms
b) investigation of priority questions in environment and health including:
- health effects of sources and emissions of environmental contaminants, including mixtures of chemicals from contaminated land, major industrial sources, agriculture and the water supply, and combined effects of different pollutants
- air pollution and health, including short, medium and long-term effects of air pollution, pollutant mixtures, and allergens on both heart and lung problems
c) improving the science base underlying the translation of this research into environmental health policy.
- New methods for the analysis of environmental health problems
- Rapid analysis of occurrences of health problems related to specific sources of environmental pollution
- Improved integration of large-scale health and environmental datasets as a basis for environmental health research
Who will benefit?
- The outcome of the research programme will help inform public health and government policies locally, nationally and internationally. The Centre will facilitate translation of science into policy to produce better informed, environmentally-aware policy makers.
Society and business
- Chemicals in the environment are difficult and expensive to control and the burden of excess mortality attributed to chronic exposure to high levels of air pollutants may be in the tens of thousands. Strong scientific underpinning to environmental health policies will reduce the social and economic burden of ill-health and disease.
PROGRAMME FACTS AND FIGURES
Start and end dates: June 2009 to May 2014