Introduction: Apheis aims to provide European decision makers, environmental-health professionals and the general public with up-to-date and easy-to-use information on air pollution (AP) and public health (PH). In the Apheis-3 phase we quantified the PH impact of long-term exposure to PM(2.5) (particulate matter < 2.5 microm) in terms of attributable number of deaths and the potential gain in life expectancy in 23 European cities.
Methods: We followed the World Health Organization (WHO) methodology for Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and the Apheis guidelines for data collection and analysis. We used the programme created by PSAS-9 for attributable-cases calculations and the WHO software AirQ to estimate the potential gain in life expectancy. For most cities, PM(2.5) levels were calculated from PM10 measurements using a local or European conversion factor.
Results: The HIA estimated that 16,926 premature deaths from all causes, including 11,612 cardiopulmonary deaths and 1901 lung-cancer deaths, could be prevented annually if long-term exposure to PM(2.5 )levels were reduced to 15 microg/m3 in each city. Equivalently, this reduction would increase life expectancy at age 30 by a range between one month and more than two years in the Apheis cities.
Conclusions: In addition to the number of attributable cases, our HIA has estimated the potential gain in life expectancy for long-term exposure to fine particles, contributing to a better quantification of the impact of AP on PH in Europe.