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Trends in air pollutants and health impacts in three Swedish cities over the past three decades
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2121-4513
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Number of Authors: 72018 (English)In: Atmospheric Chemistry And Physics, ISSN 1680-7316, E-ISSN 1680-7324, Vol. 18, no 21, p. 15705-15723Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Air pollution concentrations have been decreasing in many cities in the developed countries. We have estimated time trends and health effects associated with exposure to NOx, NO2, O-3, and PM10 (particulate matter) in the Swedish cities Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo from the 1990s to 2015. Trend analyses of concentrations have been performed by using the Mann-Kendall test and the Theil-Sen method. Measured concentrations are from central monitoring stations representing urban background levels, and they are assumed to indicate changes in long-term exposure to the population. However, corrections for population exposure have been performed for NOx, O-3, and PM10 in Stockholm, and for NOx in Gothenburg. For NOx and PM10, the concentrations at the central monitoring stations are shown to overestimate exposure when compared to dispersion model calculations of spatially resolved, population-weighted exposure concentrations, while the reverse applies to O-3. The trends are very different for the pollutants that are studied; NOx and NO2 have been decreasing in all cities, O-3 exhibits an increasing trend in all cities, and for PM10, there is a slowly decreasing trend in Stockholm, a slowly increasing trend in Gothenburg, and no significant trend in Malmo. Trends associated with NOx and NO2 are mainly attributed to local emis-sion reductions from traffic. Long-range transport and local emissions from road traffic (non-exhaust PM emissions) and residential wood combustion are the main sources of PM10. For O-3, the trends are affected by long-range transport, and there is a net removal of O-3 in the cities. The increasing trends are attributed to decreased net removal, as NOx emissions have been reduced. Health effects in terms of changes in life expectancy are calculated based on the trends in exposure to NOx, NO2, O-3, and PM10 and the relative risks associated with exposure to these pollutants. The decreased levels of NO x are estimated to increase the life expectancy by up to 11 months for Stockholm and 12 months for Gothenburg. This corresponds to up to one-fifth of the total increase in life expectancy (5470 months) in the cities during the period of 1990-2015. Since the increased concentrations in O-3 have a relatively small impact on the changes in life expectancy, the overall net effect is increased life expectancies in the cities that have been studied.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 18, no 21, p. 15705-15723
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Applied Environmental Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-163010DOI: 10.5194/acp-18-15705-2018ISI: 000449028500003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-163010DiVA, id: diva2:1269682
Available from: 2018-12-11 Created: 2018-12-11 Last updated: 2019-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Air pollution and health – Indicators, trends and impacts
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Air pollution and health – Indicators, trends and impacts
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on some of the limitations and difficulties that exist when it comes to quantifying the human health effects that arise as a result of air pollution exposure. The following four issues are particularly analysed and discussed: 1) The measurement techniques used for carbonaceous particles and their lack of consistency; 2) Do the health risks associated with exposure to PM10 depend on the content of elemental carbon in the aerosol?; 3) Trends in air pollutants and the health effects that arise as a result of changed exposure to the measured pollutants; 4) The associations between the measured concentrations of different air pollutants in Stockholm and the daily number deaths; 5) Air quality indicators and health outcomes as basis for an air quality health index (AQHI).

The method that has been used is largely based on empirical data analysis, where further statistical processing has been used in order to clarify the scientific issues. The overall conclusions are the following: 1) The health impact assessments associated with exposure to carbonaceous particles would benefit from the introduction of a more uniform measurement technique in order to get more consistent and reliable results; 2) The health risks associated with exposure to PM10 are dependent on the content of elemental carbon; 3) The life expectancy increase associated with decreasing NOx trends during 1990–2015 in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo make up as much as about 20 % of the total gain in life expectancy during this period, which clearly shows the beneficial effects related to decreased exposure; 4) The associations between daily mortality and the concentrations of O3 and PM2.5-10 in Stockholm are statistically significant, which does not apply to the exhaust-related pollutants, possibly reflecting behavioural factors affecting the degree of exposure; 5) In comparison with the currently used air quality index (AQI), the air quality health index (AQHI) is a more useful tool in order to address the short-term health effects associated with multi-pollutant exposure to NOx, O3, PM10 and birch pollen.

We hope that these findings will be useful from a policy point of view. Introducing a more consistent measurement technique for soot particles would be beneficial in assessing the health effects related to exposure to these particles. The increase in life expectancy associated with decreasing NOx trends shows the benefits from a public health perspective when it comes to introducing emission-reducing measures from traffic. The AQHI would be beneficial to implement in legislation, as it is based on several pollutants, which means that the cumulative health effects associated exposure to several different air pollutants are accounted for.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, 2019. p. 50
Keywords
air pollution, health, measurements, trends, impacts, mortality, NOx, elemental carbon, AQHI
National Category
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Applied Environmental Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168306 (URN)978-91-7797-468-0 (ISBN)978-91-7797-469-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-06-13, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-05-21 Created: 2019-04-29 Last updated: 2020-05-11Bibliographically approved

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