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Is your environment damaging your health? New center aims to find out
Date:6/1/2009

The damage that our modern living and working environment could be doing to our health will be investigated by a new 5M MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London and King's College London, which launches today.

The new Centre will analyse the health of people across the UK and how this is affected by aspects of the environment in which they live and work, from traffic fumes and noise from overhead aircraft, to chemicals in the environment such as the by-products of disinfection in the water supply.

The Centre will particularly focus on vulnerable people, including children and the elderly, and how environmental factors outside their control could be increasing their risk of respiratory problems, heart disease and cancer.

The Centre is core funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA), with the two universities funding new posts and studentships. Its researchers will be working with the HPA so that if their work reveals a new health risk, the HPA can take account of the Centre's findings in its advice to government.

Researchers estimate that air pollution alone could be causing several thousands of people to be admitted to hospital and die prematurely each year, because of the damage minute particles of pollutants could do to the heart and lungs.

However, there is currently limited evidence about the effects of most pollutants on people's health, because much of the relevant data comes from animal studies. Humans are typically exposed to low doses of pollutants, often acting in combination, over long periods of time. This makes their effects difficult to measure.

The new Centre will conduct epidemiological studies of large numbers of people and analyse in detail which pollutants they are exposed to during their daily lives. Its researchers will use new tools in areas such as mapping, modelling, toxicology, genomics, proteomics and met
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Contact: Laura Gallagher
l.gallagher@imperial.ac.uk
44-020-759-48432
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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