The Effect of Air Pollution on General Health and Mental Well-Being in the UK by Ethnicity: A Spatial-Temporal Multilevel Analysis

Mary Abed al Ahad , University of St Andrews
Urška Demšar, University of St Andrews
Frank Sullivan, University of St Andrews
Hill Kulu , University of St Andrews

Although the association between air pollution and health has been studied, no study has examined its variation by ethnic groups in Europe and UK. Innovative methods that reveal the spatial-temporal dimension of this association are also lacking. This study investigates the effect of air pollution on self-reported general health and mental well-being in the UK by ethnicity using data from the “UK Household Longitudinal: Understanding the Society” panel survey. Individual-level health data were linked to air pollution data (NO2, SO2, PM10, PM2.5) at the local authority level. Multilevel mixed-effects linear models were used to investigate the relationship between air pollution and general health and mental well-being. Increasing concentrations of NO2, SO2, PM10, and PM2.5 pollutants were associated with poorer health and well-being. Decomposing air pollution into between-within (spatial-temporal) effects showed a strong between-spatial effect of air pollution on general health and mental well-being; yet no significant within-temporal effects were detected. Analysis by ethnicity revealed poorer self-reported health among Indians, Pakistani/Bangladeshi, and Black/African/Caribbean in comparison to the British-white and among non-UK born individuals with increasing concentrations of air pollution. However, no significant differences were noted between ethnic minorities and British-White for the effect of air pollution on mental well-being with exception for the Pakistani/Bangladeshi who showed poorer mental well-being with higher levels of air pollution. Using longitudinal individual and contextual-level linked data, this study shows the deteriorating effect of air pollution on individuals’ general health and mental well-being, which is more pronounced for ethnic minorities in the UK.

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 Presented in Session 34. Climate Change, Air Pollution and Health