Estimated health benefits of exhaust free transport in the city of Malmö, Southern Sweden

Environ Int. 2018 Sep;118:78-85. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.05.035. Epub 2018 May 26.


Air pollution is responsible for one in eight premature deaths worldwide, and thereby a major threat to human health. Health impact assessments of hypothetic changes in air pollution concentrations can be used as a mean of assessing the health impacts of policy, plans and projects, and support decision-makers in choices to prevent disease. The aim of this study was to estimate health impacts attributable to a hypothetical decrease in air pollution concentrations in the city of Malmö in Southern Sweden corresponding to a policy on-road transportations without tail-pipe emissions in the municipality. We used air pollution data modelled for each of the 326,092 inhabitants in Malmö by a Gaussian dispersion model combined with an emission database with >40,000 sources. The dispersion model calculates Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) (later transformed into Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)) and particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 μg/m3 (PM2.5) with high spatial and temporal resolution (85 m and 1 h, respectively). The average individual reduction was 5.1 (ranging from 0.6 to 11.8) μg/m3 in NO2, which would prevent 55 (2% of all deaths) to 93 (4%) deaths annually, depending on dose-response function used. Furthermore, we estimate that the NO2 reduction would result in 21 (6%) fewer cases of incident asthma in children, 95 (10%) fewer children with bronchitis every year, 30 (1%) fewer hospital admissions for respiratory disease, 87(4%) fewer dementia cases, and 11(11%) fewer cases of preeclampsia every year. The average reduction in PM2.5 of 0.6 (ranging from 0.1 till 1.7) μg/m3 would mean that 2729 (0.3%) work days would not be lost due to sick-days and that there would be 16,472 fewer restricted activity days (0.3%) that year had all on-road transportations been without tail-pipe emissions. Even though the estimates are sensitive to the dose-response functions used and to exposure misclassification errors, even the most conservative estimate of the number of prevented deaths is 7 times larger than the annual traffic fatalities in Malmö, indicating a substantial possibility to reduce the health burden attributed to tail-pipe emissions in the study area.

Keywords: Air pollution; Clean air policy; HIA; Health effects; Health impact assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution* / analysis
  • Air Pollution* / prevention & control
  • Air Pollution* / statistics & numerical data
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Impact Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Sweden
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis*


  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Nitrogen Dioxide