Associations between air pollution and socioeconomic characteristics, ethnicity and age profile of neighbourhoods in England and the Netherlands

Environ Pollut. 2015 Mar:198:201-10. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2014.12.014. Epub 2015 Jan 24.


Air pollution levels are generally believed to be higher in deprived areas but associations are complex especially between sensitive population subgroups. We explore air pollution inequalities at national, regional and city level in England and the Netherlands comparing particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations and publicly available population characteristics (deprivation, ethnicity, proportion of children and elderly). We saw higher concentrations in the most deprived 20% of neighbourhoods in England (1.5 μg/m(3) higher PM10 and 4.4 μg/m(3) NO2). Concentrations in both countries were higher in neighbourhoods with >20% non-White (England: 3.0 μg/m(3) higher PM10 and 10.1 μg/m(3) NO2; the Netherlands: 1.1 μg/m(3) higher PM10 and 4.5 μg/m(3) NO2) after adjustment for urbanisation and other variables. Associations for some areas differed from the national results. Air pollution inequalities were mainly an urban problem suggesting measures to reduce environmental air pollution inequality should include a focus on city transport.

Keywords: Air pollution; Deprivation; Environmental justice; Ethnic inequity; Socioeconomic status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / analysis
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • England
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Poverty
  • Poverty Areas
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Nitrogen Dioxide