As we approach the centenary of the industrial revolution, it is crucial that we understand how the challenges we face today are the same as those faced by the workers who were here in the 17th century, according to a group of academics and scientists.
The work is part of a new research project called Toxicity and Toxic Environment.
The work, funded by the Wellcome Trust, was carried out at the University of Leeds by a group including Professor David Jones and Professor Helen O’Donnell.
It was the first time the UK Government has set out a clear policy for tackling toxic environments.
The new research comes amid mounting concern about the health impacts of air pollution.
Toxic EnvironmentThe research team involved in the study used data on pollution levels from around the world to determine how many workers, their families and communities would be exposed to air pollution in different areas of the country, in different parts of the year. “
Now that we have had a few years of recovery from the economic crisis, we need to think about what our environment can and cannot cope with, and what we can and should do to address these issues.”
Toxic EnvironmentThe research team involved in the study used data on pollution levels from around the world to determine how many workers, their families and communities would be exposed to air pollution in different areas of the country, in different parts of the year.
Using information from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Pollutant Inventory (NPI), the team created a map of air toxics from 1883 to 2016, and then compared it to pollution levels in 2025.
They then looked at the proportion of each pollution type across the country.
Professor Jones told the BBC: “Air pollution was highest in the south of England and it was highest everywhere in the UK.
We also looked at how air pollution impacts on people’s health.
People living in rural areas were exposed to more pollutants than people in urban areas.
And in cities, air pollution is the worst and highest in Scotland and Wales, and it’s highest in Northern Ireland and the Midlands.”
Professor Jones added: “The air we breathe is very much a living environment.
That means that it affects us in different ways.
If we’re living in a city or we’re in a rural area and we have to work in a polluted environment, then that means that our respiratory health is at risk.”
The team’s research shows that in urban and suburban areas, the average concentration of pollution is 5.4 parts per million.
This is higher than in rural and urban areas in the North East, Midlands and the North of England, but lower than the average concentrations in Wales, Northern Ireland, the Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.
Air pollution in the Midlands is the highest.
Professor O’Connell added: “It’s not just in the South of England.
In England we have the highest concentrations of air pollutants in the country and that means we are living in an atmosphere that is very toxic.”
The research is part in the Centre for Environmental Research and Policy’s ‘Sustainability of the Environment’ project.
To read more on air pollution, and to find out more about the work being carried out, go to www.toxicsandtoxicenvironment.co.uk/