Environmental Exposures


The Environmental Exposures programme aims to advance our understanding of the effects of some of the most common environmental pollutants on individual and population health, including the effects of air and noise pollution, non-ionising radiation, and other emerging environmental hazards.

Research in this area involves the development of innovative methods for targeted measurements and modelling estimates of environmental exposures and their application in a broad range of research projects across the Centre, investigating the association between target exposures and health effects at local, national & international scales.

The goal is to improve the quality, accuracy and range of exposure metrics used in panel and population studies, helping to establishing a more robust link between environmental exposures and a diverse set of health outcomes.



Programme Leader: Professor Frank Kelly (KCL)

Principal teams: F Kelly, B Barratt, S Beevers, G Fuller, D Green, K Katsouyanni, I Mudway.

Associated teams: P Cullinan, A de Nazelle, M Ezzati, D Jarvis, J Quint, M Williams.


Key Projects
  • Our air pollution modelling helped develop the London Environment Strategy (LES), the Toxicity (T) Charge and Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (uLEZ) policies, in collaboration with the Greater London Authority, with the aim of reducing air pollution in London.
  • We developed a fine-scale outdoor air pollution exposure model for London (CMAQ-urban [1]) whose estimates (for NOX, NO2 and O3) have been used to i) characterize effects on cognition [2], early mortality [3], prognosis among myocardial infarction survivors [4] and adverse effects on fetal growth [5]; ii) quantify uncertainties in model outputs in the MRC funded STEAM project (PI Katsouyani); and iii) forecast public health impacts of climate policies to 2050 [6].
  • We reported that air pollution adversely influences survival after stroke, increases the incidence of mild ischemic stroke [7], risk of total anterior circulation infarcts [8], mortality post stroke [9] and stroke from cerebrovascular small vessel disease [10].
  • We developed the novel London Hybrid Exposure Model (LHEM) which produces individual exposure estimates for PM2.5 and NO2 [11], indoors and outdoors, for the entire London population (~8 million people). This is being utilised to estimate exposures of school children as part of the MRC CLUE study (PI Toledano).
  • We extended and developed existing noise models to estimate noise exposures from traffic at individual address [12] and applied these methods to large European cohorts including all 500,000 participants in UK Biobank through the EU BIOsHARE programme [13].
  • We used the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) data (PI Fuller) to inform policy on air pollution mitigation [14], respiratory mortality linked to airborne black and element carbon concentrations [15]; and to determine source specific metrics of airborne particle mass, size and number [16].
  • We deployed vertical sensor networks in Hong Kong to create a 3-D air pollution exposure model (US Health Effects Institute project, PI Barratt). We identified significant associations with respiratory and cardiovascular mortality not found in previous two-dimensional studies [17].
  • We established the MRC-funded COPE panel study, carrying out detailed measurements of personal exposure and lung function among 120 COPD patients in London (PI Barratt) [18]. Similar measurement techniques have been used to support other panel studies in the Centre, including the Oxford Street II study [19] and EXPOsOMICS where personal measurements were linked to omic signatures in blood [20].


Key Papers
  1. Air pollution dispersion models for human exposure predictions in London. Beevers SD, Kitwiroon N, Williams ML, Kelly FJ, Ross Anderson H, Carslaw DC. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2013 Nov-Dec;23(6):647-53.
  2. Traffic-related air pollution in relation to cognitive function in older adults. Tonne C, Elbaz A, Beevers S, Singh-Manoux A. Epidemiology. 2014 Sep;25(5):674-81.
  3. Is long-term exposure to traffic pollution associated with mortality? A small-area study in London. Halonen JI, Blangiardo M, Toledano MB, Fecht D, Gulliver J, Ghosh R, Anderson HR, Beevers SD, Dajnak D, Kelly FJ, Wilkinson P, Tonne C. Environ Pollut. 2016 Jan;208(Pt A):25-32.
  4. Long-term traffic air and noise pollution in relation to mortality and hospital readmission among myocardial infarction survivors. Tonne C, Halonen JI, Beevers SD, Dajnak D, Gulliver J, Kelly FJ, Wilkinson P, Anderson HR. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2016 Jan;219(1):72-8.
  5. Impact of London's road traffic air and noise pollution on birth weight: retrospective population based cohort study. Smith RB, Fecht D, Gulliver J, Beevers SD, Dajnak D, Blangiardo M, Ghosh RE, Hansell AL, Kelly FJ, Anderson HR, Toledano MB. BMJ. 2017 Dec 5;359:j5299.
  6. The Lancet Countdown on health benefits from the UK Climate Change Act: a modelling study for Great Britain. Williams ML, Lott MC, Kitwiroon N, Dajnak D, Walton H, Holland M, Pye S, Fecht D, Toledano MB, Beevers SD. Lancet Planet Health. 2018 May;2(5):e202-e213.
  7. Outdoor air pollution, subtypes and severity of ischemic stroke--a small-area level ecological study. Maheswaran R, Pearson T, Beevers SD, Campbell MJ, Wolfe CD. Int J Health Geogr. 2014 Jun 17;13:23.
  8. Associations between exhaust and non-exhaust particulate matter and stroke incidence by stroke subtype in South London. Crichton S, Barratt B, Spiridou A, Hoang U, Liang SF, Kovalchuk Y, Beevers SD, Kelly FJ, Delaney B, Wolfe CD. Sci Total Environ. 2016 Oct 15;568:278-284.
  9. Effect of Exhaust- and Nonexhaust-Related Components of Particulate Matter on Long-Term Survival After Stroke. Desikan A, Crichton S, Hoang U, Barratt B, Beevers SD, Kelly FJ, Wolfe CD. Stroke. 2016 Dec;47(12):2916-2922.
  10. Air Pollution and Subtypes, Severity and Vulnerability to Ischemic Stroke-A Population Based Case-Crossover Study. Maheswaran R, Pearson T, Beevers SD, Campbell MJ, Wolfe CD. PLoS One. 2016 Jun 30;11(6):e0158556.
  11. London Hybrid Exposure Model: Improving Human Exposure Estimates to NO2 and PM2.5 in an Urban Setting. Smith JD, Mitsakou C, Kitwiroon N, Barratt BM, Walton HA, Taylor JG, Anderson HR, Kelly FJ, Beevers SD. Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Nov 1;50(21):11760-11768.
  12. Road traffic noise is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and all-cause mortality in London. Halonen JI, Hansell AL, Gulliver J, Morley D, Blangiardo M, Fecht D, Toledano MB, Beevers SD, Anderson HR, Kelly FJ, Tonne C. Eur Heart J. 2015 Oct 14;36(39):2653-61.
  13. Ambient air pollution, traffic noise and adult asthma prevalence: a BioSHaRE approach. Cai Y, Zijlema WL, Doiron D, Blangiardo M, Burton PR, Fortier I, Gaye A, Gulliver J, de Hoogh K, Hveem K, Mbatchou S, Morley DW, Stolk RP, Elliott P, Hansell AL, Hodgson S. Eur Respir J. 2017 Jan 11;49(1). pii: 1502127.
  14. Did policies to abate atmospheric emissions from traffic have a positive effect in London? Font A, Fuller GW. Environ Pollut. 2016 Nov;218:463-474.
  15. Short-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and daily mortality in London, UK. Atkinson RW, Analitis A, Samoli E, Fuller GW, Green DC, Mudway IS, Anderson HR, Kelly FJ. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2016 Mar-Apr;26(2):125-32.
  16. Differential health effects of short-term exposure to source-specific particles in London, U.K. Samoli E, Atkinson RW, Analitis A, Fuller GW, Beddows D, Green DC, Mudway IS, Harrison RM, Anderson HR, Kelly FJ. Environ Int. 2016 Dec;97:246-253.
  17. Long term exposure to air pollution and mortality in an elderly cohort in Hong Kong. Yang Y, Tang R, Qiu H, Lai PC, Wong P, Thach TQ, Allen R, Brauer M, Tian L, Barratt B. Environ Int. 2018 Aug;117:99-106.
  18. Linking e-health records, patient-reported symptoms and environmental exposure data to characterise and model COPD exacerbations: protocol for the COPE study. Moore E, Chatzidiakou L, Jones RL, Smeeth L, Beevers S, Kelly FJ, K Quint J, Barratt B. BMJ Open. 2016 Jul 13;6(7):e011330.
  19. Respiratory and cardiovascular responses to walking down a traffic-polluted road compared with walking in a traffic-free area in participants aged 60 years and older with chronic lung or heart disease and age-matched healthy controls: a randomised, crossover study. Sinharay R, Gong J, Barratt B, Ohman-Strickland P, Ernst S, Kelly FJ, Zhang JJ, Collins P, Cullinan P, Chung KF. Lancet. 2018 Jan 27;391(10118):339-349 Erratum in: Lancet. 2018 Jan 27;391(10118):308.
  20. The human circulating miRNome reflects multiple organ disease risks in association with short-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution. Krauskopf J, Caiment F, van Veldhoven K, Chadeau-Hyam M, Sinharay R, Chung KF, Cullinan P, Collins P, Barratt B, Kelly FJ, Vermeulen R, Vineis P, de Kok TM, Kleinjans JC. Environ Int. 2018 Apr;113:26-34.
  21. Association Between Air Pollution Exposure, Cognitive and Adaptive Function, and ASD Severity Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kerin T, Volk H, Li W, Lurmann F, Eckel S, McConnell R, Hertz-Picciotto I. J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Jan;48(1):137-150.