WIT Press

An Environmental Justice Analysis Of Exposure To Traffic-related Pollutants In England And Wales


Free (open access)





Page Range

431 - 442




578 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


J. H. Barnes, T. J. Chatterton


In 2003, Mitchell and Dorling undertook the first national level environmental justice analysis of air quality in Britain and established that there were clear inequalities in exposure to air pollution based on demography, poverty and car ownership. This paper updates and improves on their work looking at relationships between emissions and exposure a decade later. Using 2011 pollution data (NO2 concentrations and NOx emissions from road transport) in combination with socio-economic and demographic data from the UK Census, we present analyses of patterns of exposure at the level of small area census units. Then, using an enhanced version of the UK Department for Transport’s annual vehicle safety inspection records, we spatially attribute the annual NOx emissions for private motor vehicles to the location of each vehicle’s registered keeper. From this, it is possible to identify who are the highest emitters of traffic related pollution and to explore the relationships between responsibility for causing emissions and exposure to pollution. The research focuses on England and Wales and finds that despite a decade of efforts to reduce air pollution, significant inequalities still characterise exposure. Young children and adults, and households in poverty are much more likely to suffer from the effects of traffic than older people and more affluent households. Furthermore, it is these more affluent households that contribute most to traffic pollution through owning the most vehicles and generating the highest emissions.


environmental justice, air pollution, emissions, transport, exposure, MOT, census, demographic, car ownership, poverty