Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Outdoor Air Pollution Has a Large Impact on Public Health

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Outdoor Air Pollution Has a Large Impact on Public Health

Article excerpt

Outdoor air pollution, although usually of small immediate risk to the health of individuals, has a large impact on long-term public health in Europe, says a report presented at the World Congress on Lung Health in Florence this September. The report was also published to coincide with the congress (Lancet, 2000, 356: 795-801).

Dr Nino Kunzli from the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Basel, Switzerland, headed a team of specialists who estimated the impact of outdoor and traffic-related air pollution on public health in Austria, France and Switzerland.

The authors attributed around 6% of total mortality or more than 40 000 deaths per year to air pollution. There were more than 48 000 hospital admissions, and about half a million asthma attacks. Traffic accounted for half of this public health impact and also for 25 000 new cases of chronic bronchitis, 290 000 episodes of bronchitis in children, and 16 million person-days of restricted activities.

Total costs estimates, soon to be published in an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report by the economist Dr Heini Sommer and colleagues, reached 600-700 Euro per capita per year, in all three countries, giving a final total cost of approximately 50 000 million Euro. However the estimates are based on prudent assumptions and the overall impact may be larger.

These findings are significant because they are the first data that can be compared across the participating countries. Crosscountr3, comparisons are possible because population exposure was modelled for each square kilometre and identical assumptions and methods were used. …

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