HIA of air pollution in Italian cities
Over the last few decades, the adverse effects of air pollution on health have been substantially documented. These effects are associated with both short- and long-term exposure to levels routinely experienced by urban populations throughout the world.
A 2002 study on the eight largest Italian cities showed that thousands of deaths, hospital admissions, cases of bronchitis and other respiratory conditions were in excess compared to rates predicted at lower particulate matter (PM10) concentrations. PM10 was used as an indicator of air quality, given its importance as a health determinant and the correlation between different urban pollutants.
In 2006, a second study, concerning 13 Italian cities, focused on the health effects of both PM10 and ozone. This study used an updated and extended set of data; it considered 25 adverse health outcomes and several exposure scenarios. An average of 8220 deaths a year in the 13 cities were shown to be attributable to PM10 concentrations in excess of 20 mg/m3. This corresponds to 9% of all-cause mortality (excluding accidents) in the population over 30 years of age.
The magnitude of this estimated impact underscores the need for urgent action to reduce the health burden of air pollution. Through their policies that aim to reduce emissions from urban transport and energy production, local authorities can therefore also achieve sizeable health gains.
Author and Email
WHO European Centre for Environment and Health Rome Division
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WHO European Centre for Environment and Health
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