UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has recently awarded £3 million to support six research networks that will investigate solutions to air pollution. Cranfield has been awarded funding for two projects, leading one group and partnering with other institutions on a second.

Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK, according to DEFRA’s Clean Air Strategy. The new multidisciplinary networks will research ways to tackle major air quality challenges within both indoor and outdoor spaces including home, school, work, and public transport.

Frederic Coulon, Cranfield’s Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology, will lead a group investigating indoor and outdoor bioaerosols interface and relationships. The BioAirNet research group is Cranfield University, with the Universities of Oxford, Plymouth and De Montfort, Public Health England, the Environment Agency and DSTL.

Professor Coulon said: “We are looking forward to launching the network in September. There are knowledge gaps on how particulate matter of biological origin (BioPM) or bioaerosols emissions are impacting people’s health. By bringing together the scientific disciplines, each as a leading voice for the UK BioPM science community, we will inform the future development, prioritisation and assessment of environmental and health interventions.”

Neil Harris, Cranfield’s Professor of Atmospheric Informatics, will join the University of Birmingham network on the Air Pollution Solutions for Vulnerable Groups (CleanAir4V) research.

CleanAir4V will investigate ways to develop innovative and cost-effective behaviour and technology interventions, through policy advice, planning and business innovation, to reduce further air pollution exposure and improve the health of vulnerable groups.

Professor Harris said: “‘I am sure we all know someone who is particularly sensitive to breathing problems. Understanding how these vulnerable groups can experience improved air quality and be at reduced risk is critically important for them."

The six networks will be funded through the second wave of the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) Clean Air Programme. The Met Office will be working closely with the cohort of networks through their work on the Clean Air Programme.

Professor Stephen Holgate, a Strategic Priorities Fund Clean Air Programme Champion said: “These six new research and innovation networks focused on cleaning up the air we breathe recognise the importance of the indoor environment, the total exposure of an individual and the sources of such pollutants as major drivers of adverse health. In bringing together atmospheric, health and behavioural sciences, the new interdisciplinary networks offer a unique opportunity for a new paradigm for translational research in this field to create solutions for the wicked problem that air pollution continues to create.”

Notes for editors

The Clean Air programme is jointly delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Met Office, with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK, Medical Research Council (MRC), National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), Department for Transport (DfT), Scottish Government and Welsh Government.

Find out more about the Strategic Priorities Fund, including the two waves of the Clean Air Programme

The six projects awarded funding:

Frederic Coulon - Cranfield University

Indoor/outdoor Bioaerosols Interface and Relationships Network - BioAirNet

Christian Pfrang - University of Birmingham

Air Pollution Solutions for Vulnerable Groups - CleanAir4V

Catherine Noakes - University of Leeds

Breathing City: Future Urban Ventilation Network

Paul Linden - University of Cambridge

Tackling Air Pollution at School

Ruth Doherty - University of Edinburgh

The health and equity impacts of climate change mitigation measures on indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure - HEICCAM

Suzanne Bartington - University of Birmingham

Optimising air quality and health benefits associated with a low-emission transport and mobility revolution in the UK

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.