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University of Bath

Low Emission Zones improve air quality, physical health and mental well-being

This policy brief evaluates the impact of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) schemes in England.

Ambient air pollution is a major public health concern. It has prompted novel policy interventions, in the UK and beyond, notably in the form of Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) schemes. This policy brief explores the impact of these schemes on physical health and mental well-being, using large survey and administrative data covering the whole of England.

It finds that these policy interventions have significantly reduced levels of key pollutants, leading to improvements in physical health and mental well-being, and a reduction of hospitalisations for respiratory problems. This effect has been particularly strong for the Central London ULEZ scheme, the strictest of the clean air policies, but we also see positive health impacts over Greater London where the LEZ scheme has been implemented since 2008.

Our evidence suggests that these schemes offer good value for money, with a cost-benefit analysis indicating savings of more than £963 million in Greater London.

This publication is also available via Zenodo - DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.8360285