About the AMPHoRA project

Our key research question is:

What should we do to reduce the health impacts of air pollution from agriculture? 

with a specific focus on how changes in agricultural production and patterns of food consumption can influence agricultural emissions, their negative health effects and health inequalities.

Key topics include:

  • The contribution of agricultural emissions of ammonia and other air pollutants to the exposure of the UK's population to harmful levels of fine particulate matter.
  • Effectiveness of existing and planned policy interventions to mitigate emissions and reduce exposure.
  • Public health benefits in terms of cost savings and improving the well-being of vulnerable population groups, patients and the general public.
  • Impacts of interventions in terms of socio-economic and environmental aspects, including co-benefits and unintended consequences, with a focus on regional and distributional effects.
  • Potential benefits of emission and dietary changes for greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity and the prevention of non-contagious diseases.

Background and rationale: 

Agricultural emissions, in particular ammonia, contribute to formation of secondary inorganic aerosols (SIA), exposing the population to ammonium nitrate/sulphate in fine particulate matter (PM2.5). This affects widespread areas and populations, as SIA can be transported over mid and long ranges, taking PM2.5 far from emission hotspots. Emissions come from a variety of sources and are also affected by meteorological conditions, making them hard to address using policy interventions, as local changes may not affect local concentrations. At  the  same  time,  human  diets  and  the  relationships  between  food  production and both human and environmental health are subject to extensive research.

Recent research has highlighted the need for substantial changes in human  diets  to  safeguard  food  security,  nutrition,  human  health  and  well-being  within  planetary  boundaries. Both  the  implementation  of  technical  and  management  interventions  in  agricultural  production systems and changes in human diets will affect emissions of ammonia and other air pollutants. Such changes will vary between regions and agricultural sub-sectors.  Full  costs  and  benefits  of  policy  interventions  need  to  be  modelled  in advance ,  to  ensure  that  interventions  are  designed  for  maximum positive environmental and human health effects, without negative impacts on UK food security and healthy nutrition. With the exit from the EU, UK environmental, agricultural and health policy reviews present a unique opportunity for a consistent and integrated approach to maximise benefits for public health, the environment and the economy. Reducing exposure to harmful levels of air pollution and thus adverse public health effects, as well as  improving  diets  and  nutrition  could  achieve  whole  health  system  cost  reductions,  benefitting  patients  and  primary/secondary  health  care  provisions.  Our research will realise a step change in how we conduct  integrated assessments of potential policy interventions.

AMPHoRA flowchart

Specific objectives:

  • To convene a multi-stakeholder group, comprising government departments/agencies, food and agriculture  industry  experts,  the  public,  3rd  sector  organizations  and  academics,  to  explore existing  and  potential  future  policies  with  potential  to  reduce  emissions  of  air  pollutants  and  GHGs through changes to
    • agricultural technology and land-use management, and
    • factors influencing dietary patterns
  • To quantify the impact in terms of key nutritional constituents and fulfilment of nutritional needs of interventions aimed at altering patterns of food consumption and UK production that both help to reduce air pollutant emissions and improve diets for health and sustainability
  • To quantify the impact of such policies on air pollutants, GHG emissions, and on population-weighted  ambient  concentrations  of  PM,  NO2,  and  ozone,  now  and  in  future,  under  policy  scenarios defined in Objective 1.
  • To   develop   and   apply   models   of   health   impact   capturing   the   mortality   and   morbidity   benefits/harms of changes in air quality of food/agriculture interventions (including both existing and potential future policies), and of the associated dietary changes and environmental impacts where relevant
  • To compare policies over time horizons up to 2050 using a multi-criteria assessment framework with assessment criteria developed with the multi-stakeholder group (and to include the fulfilment of AP goals, health, health differentials, GHG emissions targets, economic costs)
  • To  assess  the  implications  of  these  analyses  for  policy  development  and  implementation,  patients  and  the  wider  public,  taking  account  of  real-world  constraints  and  opportunities,  including with the aid of an iterative cycle of stakeholder engagements.

Project structure:

AMPHoRA slide