As a result of our successful work summarising environmental deprivation across the UK, South Lanarkshire Council commissioned our group to investigate health-related environmental deprivation in their region, and how it might relate to health differences observed there. Quantifying environmental variation across the region required a finer resolution approach, as South Lanarkshire is less than one thousandth (0.07%) of the size of the UK. We developed the South Lanarkshire Index of Multiple Environmental Deprivation (SLIMED) for the 398 data zones in the region. The index included environmental factors that may be either directly or indirectly hazardous to health at the population level: air pollution, noise pollution, traffic environment, industry, derelict land, contaminated land, mineral extraction sites and the crime environment. Data availability and adequacy issues precluded the inclusion of beneficial environments (e.g., green space).
Multiple environmental deprivation was most concentrated in urban settlements, particularly in Rutherglen, Cambuslang and Hamilton (see map below), and was often experienced in communities already recognised to be socially deprived. Ten per cent of the population resided in data zones with the greatest levels of both environmental and socioeconomic deprivation. We found small increases in risk of self-reported ill health and emergency hospital admissions at higher levels of environmental deprivation (after accounting for other risk factors), which equated to sizable effects at the population level. We concluded that tackling environmental deprivation may therefore help the Council’s efforts to improve health in South Lanarkshire. The SLIMED index provides a good indication of where environmental deprivation is most keenly experienced.
Map: Distribution of the South Lanarkshire Index of Multiple Environmental Deprivation (SLIMED). Data zones were grouped into equal fifths (quintiles) based on their SLIMED score. Darker colour indicates greater environmental deprivation.
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