Sunday, November 23, 2008

Estimating Health Impacts of Urban Air Pollution

A working paper, supporting the SIM-air program presents a methodology, resources (dose response functions for mortality and morbidity), and example calculations for Estimating Health Impacts of Urban Air Pollution.

Air pollution in the urban centers is a growing concern for the public and government bodies; owing to growing number of vehicles on the road, increasing number of industries, domestic use of fossil and biomass fuels for heating and cooking. And the consequences of being exposed to air pollution due to various pollutants, such as:
  • Effects on human health - Premature mortality, asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, oxygen deficiency in blood, eye irritation, and genetic and reproductive damages
  • Effects on vegetation - Productivity loss and slower photosynthesis for vegetation
  • Effects on material and structure - Corrosion of metal, accelerated erosion on building and monument
  • Effects on comfort and aesthetics - Bad smell, reduced vision distance, quick paling of paint on buildings
  • Effects on ecosystem (atmosphere, soil and water body) - Local human health), regional (acid rain), and global (climate change)
It is important to note that that
  • The methodology is based on empirical dose response functions based on epidemiological studies conducted around the world and the calculations based on these should be taken into consideration as guidelines for comparison and decision making and should not be taken literally for conclusions.
  • The uncertainty exists in calculations, every step of the way, but this is a good place to start, especially when comparing scenarios and establishing the cost effectiveness of the interventions with human health estimates as a baseline.
  • The results of this methodology are as good as the inputs. The more detailed the analysis on the spatial distribution of the pollution levels for various scenarios and exposure levels based on the population distribution, the better the results.
  • A literature search of similar studies in the region and the methodologies applied will help better the equation.
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