This rapid literature review summarises evidence on air quality interventions in LICs and LMICs to improve air quality and/or mitigate its impacts. The review found limited evidence derived from such countries and instead draws on evidence from reviews and compilations compiled by bodies such as Public Health England (PHE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). In particular, the review draws heavily on two key sources of information; a review commissioned by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to review the evidence for practical interventions to reduce harm from outdoor air pollution and World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidance on interventions to address indoor and outdoor air pollution.
- The evidence base for what works where and why is limited, inconsistent, and requires further assessment. This is particularly the case when trying to identify interventions that are focused on children under 5 years old, indeed such interventions are often embedded within broader air quality management efforts.
- It is broadly acknowledged that cooperation across sectors and at different levels – city, regional, and national – is crucial to effectively address air pollution. According to the WHO, policies, and investments supporting cleaner transport and power generation, as well as energy-efficient housing and municipal waste management can reduce key sources of outdoor air pollution. These interventions not only improve health but also reduce climate pollutants and serve as a catalyst for local economic development and the promotion of healthy urban lifestyles
- An array of interventions are identified in this rapid literature review and clustered around 7 areas:
- Cities: Energy-efficient transport, healthy urban planning, healthy urban diets, slum upgrading, healthy energy-efficient housing, and improved urban waste management.
- Transport: Public transport, active travel (walking and cycling), land use and built environment, vehicle technologies and fuel technologies
- Housing: Switching to cleaner fuel sources and household design.
- Industry: Improved brick kilns and coke ovens, control of fugitive emissions
- Power generation: switching from fossil fuels to renewables and preplacing or supplementing diesel generators.
- Agriculture: alternating irrigation; improved manure management; reduced open burning and moving towards plant-based diets.
- Regulation: improved regulatory mechanisms and legislative processes, improvements in achieving clean air policy implementation and compliance.
- It is important to note that single interventions are unlikely to have a significant impact on long-term air pollution trends, but a set of well-designed and implemented interventions can reap benefits. The effectiveness of various intervention components depends on local geography and meteorology, as well as on environmental, social and political situations and behavioural response.