Public-health Impact of Outdoor and Traffic-Related Air Pollution: A European Assessment

Lancet. 2000 Sep 2;356(9232):795-801. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)02653-2.

Abstract

Background: Air pollution contributes to mortality and morbidity. We estimated the impact of outdoor (total) and traffic-related air pollution on public health in Austria, France, and Switzerland. Attributable cases of morbidity and mortality were estimated.

Methods: Epidemiology-based exposure-response functions for a 10 microg/m3 increase in particulate matter (PM10) were used to quantify the effects of air pollution. Cases attributable to air pollution were estimated for mortality (adults > or = 30 years), respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions (all ages), incidence of chronic bronchitis (adults > or = 25 years), bronchitis episodes in children (< 15 years), restricted activity days (adults > or = 20 years), and asthma attacks in adults and children. Population exposure (PM10) was modelled for each km2. The traffic-related fraction was estimated based on PM10 emission inventories.

Findings: Air pollution caused 6% of total mortality or more than 40,000 attributable cases per year. About half of all mortality caused by air pollution was attributed to motorised traffic, accounting also for: more than 25,000 new cases of chronic bronchitis (adults); more than 290,000 episodes of bronchitis (children); more than 0.5 million asthma attacks; and more than 16 million person-days of restricted activities.

Interpretation: This assessment estimates the public-health impacts of current patterns of air pollution. Although individual health risks of air pollution are relatively small, the public-health consequences are considerable. Traffic-related air pollution remains a key target for public-health action in Europe. Our results, which have also been used for economic valuation, should guide decisions on the assessment of environmental health-policy options.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Lung Diseases / mortality
  • Public Health*
  • Vehicle Emissions / adverse effects*

Substances

  • Vehicle Emissions