Intended for healthcare professionals


Paul Wilkinson: environmental epidemiologist at the forefront of research into the health benefits of climate change action

BMJ 2022; 379 doi: (Published 17 October 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;379:o2480
  1. Penny Warren
  1. Salisbury, UK
  1. warrenpenny788{at}

If excess winter deaths are linked to colder temperatures, why do so many more die in England than in colder places such as Scandinavia? In 2001, epidemiologist Paul Wilkinson gave the answer: his groundbreaking paper “Cold Comfort” showed it’s the temperature inside the home that is crucial. Draughty, cold housing is inimical to health.

Wilkinson repeatedly found that what is good for the planet (reducing carbon emissions, cycling and walking, energy efficient housing) is also good for human health. In 1989 he became a research fellow and honorary registrar at the National Heart and Lung Institute. He had decided to make researching the health benefits of climate change mitigation strategies his life’s work and in 1993 joined the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a lecturer. He worked there for nearly 30 years, becoming professor of environmental epidemiology and head of the environmental epidemiological unit from 2003 to 2007.

Wilkinson, who became director of the National Institute for Health and Care Research health protection research unit …

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