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Urban air pollution explored at Hay Festival

25 May 2016

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The impact of urban air pollution on human health is being explored via a special 3D presentation as part of the University’s line up at this year’s Hay Festival.

Dr Kelly BéruBé, from The Lung and Particle Research Group at Cardiff School of Biosciences, will take to the stage at 20:30 on Saturday 28 May to discuss the serious health problems caused by the lungs’ exposure to airborne particles in everyday life.

The presentation will begin with an overview of the history of air pollution in London, from Roman times through to the 1952 catastrophe which resulted in 12,000 deaths in just four days. Dr BéruBé will then provide the audience with 3D glasses before presenting her research using three-dimensional electron microscope images of air pollutants and their effects on human lung cells. The talk will conclude with a summary of particle toxicity and Dr BéruBé’s predictions for the future.

3D scanning electron microscope images of air pollutant particles
3D scanning electron microscope images of air pollutant particles.

Dr BéruBé explained how pollution can impact our health.

“Our lungs are exposed to airborne particles in all aspects of everyday life. Research from around the world suggests that ‘small’ airborne particles can cause ‘big’ human health problems, especially in persons with pre-existing lung and heart disease.

Air pollution and its effects on human health is a serious global problem that affects people from all walks of life. It is both unhealthy and unsustainable and I’m really pleased to see a high profile event such as the Hay Festival giving prominence to this important issue.”

Dr BéruBé is also delivering a separate 20 minute talk to students aged 16 to 25 years old as part of a Welsh Government-funded pilot event. She will discuss the recycling of medical waste tissues as part of the festival’s sustainability theme.

In addition, Dr BéruBé will be filming a short video on the topic of air pollution biology and cardio-pulmonary toxicology. This video is part of the festival’s educational project, ‘Hay Levels’, which produces inspiring, three-minute video clips aimed at young people preparing for A-Level study.

Speaking of her participation in the Hay Festival, Dr BéruBé said,

"I am thrilled to be invited to speak at the Hay Festival. I feel honoured to have my name associated with this premier event and am excited about the opportunity to engage with and present my research to a new audience.”

Other University experts are also taking part in the festival, looking at topics as diverse as gravitational waves, the threat from objects in space, tax avoidance, air pollution, the tiny citizens inside our bodies and establishing a digital literary atlas of Wales.