Burden of disease attributable to air pollutants from municipal solid waste incinerators in Seoul, Korea: a source-specific approach for environmental burden of disease

Sci Total Environ. 2011 May 1;409(11):2019-28. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.02.032. Epub 2011 Mar 21.


Few studies have attempted to quantify the integrated health burden, incorporating both mortality and morbidity as these factors pertain to air pollutants, on the population in the vicinity of the incinerators. The aims of this study are to estimate the attributable burden of disease caused by incinerators in Seoul, Korea and to present an approach based on source-specific exposure for the estimation of the environmental burden of disease (EBD). With particular attention on the development of a measurement means of the source-specific, exposure-based population attributable fraction (PAF), we integrated air dispersion modeling, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the population distribution of exposure, and the exposure-response relationship. We then estimated the PAFs caused by additional concentrations of four air pollutants (PM(10), NO(2,) SO(2), and CO) emitted from four municipal solid waste incinerators (MSWIs) in Seoul in 2007. We, finally, estimated the attributable burden of disease, using the estimated PAF and the disability-adjusted life years (DALY) method developed by the Global Burden of Disease Group of the World Health Organization (WHO). The PAF for NO(2) to all-cause mortality was assessed at approximately 0.02% (95% CI: 0.003-0.036%), which was the highest among all air pollutants. The PAFs for respiratory and cardiovascular disease were 0.12% (95% CI: 0.01-0.16%) and 0.10% (95% CI: 0.04-0.16%), respectively. The sum of the attributable burden of disease for four pollutants was about 297 person-years (PYs) (95% CI: 121-472 PYs) when the incinerators observed to the emission standards. The attributable burdens of respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease were about 0.2% and 0.1%, respectively, of the total burden of respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease of Seoul citizens for the year 2007. Although the air emissions from one risk factor, an incinerator, are small, the burden of disease can be significant to the public health when population exposure is considered.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cities
  • Demography
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Incineration*
  • Models, Chemical
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Republic of Korea
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality
  • Sulfur Dioxide / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Nitrogen Dioxide