Choices behind numbers: a review of the major air pollution health impact assessments in Europe

Publié le 1 Mars 2018
Mis à jour le 10 septembre 2019

Purpose of review: the aim of this review is to identify the key contextual and methodological differences in health impact assessments (HIA) of ambient air pollution performed for Europe. We limited our review to multi-country reviews. An additional aim is to quantify some of these differences by applying them in a HIA template in three European cities. Recent findings: several HIAs of ambient air pollution have been performed for Europe, and their key results have been largely disseminated. Different studies have, however, come up with substantial differences in attributed health effects. It is of importance to review the background contributing to these differences and to quantify their importance for decision makers who will use them. Summary: we identified several methodological differences that could explain the discrepancy behind the number of attributable deaths or years of life lost. The main differences are due to the exposure-response functions chosen, the ways of assessing air pollution levels, the air pollution scenarios and the study population. In the quantification part, we found that using risk estimates from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE) instead of the American Cancer Society (ACS) study could nearly double the attributable burden of ambient air pollution. This study provides some insights into the differential results in previously published HIAs on air pollution in Europe. These results are important for stakeholders in order to make informed decisions.

Auteur : Malmqvist E, Oudin A, Pascal M, Medina S
Current Environmental Health Reports, 2018, vol. 5, n°. 1, p. 34-43