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Atlas aims to show possible environmental effects on UK health

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2948 (Published 25 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2948
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Local variations in health and the environmental factors that may influence it have been mapped in unprecedented detail in a new atlas of England and Wales.1

Users can input their postcode and see how much better, or worse, the health of the immediate vicinity is compared with the average. They can also access maps showing air pollution, pesticides, or sunshine against a similar scale, to identify any obvious similarities that may show cause and effect.

The atlas, produced by the UK Small Area Statistics Unit at Imperial College London, is adjusted for age and deprivation so that any remaining correlations may be the result of small environmental differences. However, it maps relative risk and not absolute risk and represents an average for the population as a whole from 1985 to 2009, so it cannot be used to work out the healthiest place to live or the absolute risk for a person living there.

Still, some areas seem healthier than expected, given …

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