Air pollution interventions and their impact on public health

Int J Public Health. 2012 Oct;57(5):757-68. doi: 10.1007/s00038-012-0369-6. Epub 2012 May 17.


Introduction: Numerous epidemiological studies have found a link between air pollution and health. We are reviewing a collection of published intervention studies with particular focus on studies assessing both improvements in air quality and associated health effects.

Methods: Interventions, defined as events aimed at reducing air pollution or where reductions occurred as a side effect, e.g. strikes, German reunification, from the 1960s onwards were considered for inclusion. This review is not a complete record of all existing air pollution interventions. In total, 28 studies published in English were selected based on a systematic search of internet databases.

Results: Overall air pollution interventions have succeeded at improving air quality. Consistently published evidence suggests that most of these interventions have been associated with health benefits, mainly by the way of reduced cardiovascular and/or respiratory mortality and/or morbidity. The decrease in mortality from the majority of the reviewed interventions has been estimated to exceed the expected predicted figures based on the estimates from time-series studies.

Conclusion: There is consistent evidence that decreased air pollution levels following an intervention resulted in health benefits for the assessed population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / analysis
  • Air Pollution / prevention & control*
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology