"An increasing number of research studies are showing that low emission zones
(LEZs) improve health.
More than 320 zones are operating across the UK, Europe and notably in Tokyo,
Japan. These reduce air pollution across an area by curbing the number of
highly polluting vehicles, normally older diesels. Schemes, including London’s
ultra-low emission zone, can improve air quality. This should lead to improved
health, but does this actually happen?
A new review, published in the Lancet Public Health
journal, has gathered
research on schemes in cities around the world. Rosemary Chamberlain, from
Imperial College London, who was part of the review team, said: “We wanted to
bring together the most up-to-date studies from LEZs globally, to understand
their effectiveness and to inform future plans to address air pollution.”
LEZs are not the same everywhere, making them hard to compare. Some apply to
lorries and buses only, while others also include taxis, cars and motorcycles.
The health researchers in each country also used different approaches and
different data sources. The studies compared data before and after the LEZ
start date and some also made comparisons with areas with no LEZ. Data came
from health survey results, GP and hospital records, and death registrations.
Despite these differences in approach, five of the eight LEZ studies showed a
clear reduction in heart and circulatory problems when an LEZ was implemented.
These included fewer admissions to hospital, fewer deaths from heart attacks
and strokes, and fewer people with blood pressure problems. These results came
from zones in Germany, Japan and the UK. One of the German studies analysed
hospital data from 69 cities with LEZs. It found a 2%-3% reduction in heart
problems and 7%-12% reduction in stroke. The improvements were greatest for
older people and resulted in estimated health cost savings of €4.4bn (£3.8bn)."
Via Future Crunch
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics