​FOI Ref: FOI/2022/4042

You asked

​How many deaths are recorded in London as a direct result of car emissions?

How many deaths are recorded in London as contributed by car emissions?

We said

Thank you for your enquiry.

We are responsible for the production of mortality data for England and Wales, this is driven by information collected from the death certificate at death registration.

Causes of death are certified in most cases by a doctor, who records the sequence of medical conditions and relevant events leading to, or contributing to, the death, based on the deceased's healthcare records and other available information, such as laboratory tests or post-mortem investigation. Some deaths are certified by a coroner who determines the causes of death following an inquest, based on all the available evidence.

It is unusual for wider contextual factors such as exposure to car emissions, pollution, or air quality to be recorded among the causes of death. One death in England and Wales in the period 2001 to 2021 had exposure to air pollution (International Classification of Diseases, tenth revision (ICD-10) code Z581) recorded on the death certificate.

There was 1 death registered in London in the period 2001 to 2021 which had exposure to air pollution recorded on the death certificate in either part 1 or part 2 of the death certificate. This death was attributed to environmental air pollution, however we are unable to determine whether this involved car emissions.

It may be more informative to consider epidemiological studies which estimate numbers or proportions of deaths which can be attributed to exposure to pollution or poor air quality. A number of reports have been published by Public Health England (now the UK Health Security Agency) on different aspects of air pollution and health. If you wish to discuss these or request more information, the UK Health Security Agency can be contacted at InformationRights@UKHSA.gov.uk.