Air pollution - health impacts: summary research findings

This report presents a summary of the research findings from the evidence on health impacts of low-level air pollution in countries with levels of ambient concentrations comparable to Scotland.


(N.B. Full references list in the main report.)

Brauer, M., Brook, J.R., Christidis, T., Chu, Y., Crouse, D.L., Erickson, A., Hystad, P., Li, C., Martin, R.V., Meng, J., Pappin, J., Pinault, L.L., Tjepkema, M., van Donkelaar, A., Weichenthal, S., Burnett, R.T., 2022. Mortality–Air Pollution Associations in Low Exposure Environments (MAPLE): Phase 2.

Brunekreef, B., Strak, M., Chen, J., Andersen, Z.J., Atkinson, R., Carey, I., Cesaroni, G., Forastiere, F., Fecht, D., Gulliver, J., Hertel, O., Hoffmann, B., de Hoogh, K., Houthuijs, D., Hvidtfeldt, U., Klompmaker, J., Krog, N.H., Liu, S., Ljungman, P., Mehta, A., Renzi, M., Rodopoulou, S., Samoli, E., Schwarze, P., Sigsgaard, T., Stafoggia, M., Vienneau, D., Weinmayr, G., Wolf, K., Hoek, G., 2021. Mortality and Morbidity Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Low-Level PM2.5, BC, NO2, and O3: An Analysis of European Cohorts in the ELAPSE Project.

Cortes, T.R., I.H. Silveira, B.F.A. de Oliveira, M.L. Bell, and W.L. Junger. ‘Short-Term Association between Ambient Air Pollution and Cardio-Respiratory Mortality in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’. PLoS ONE 18, no. 2 February (2023).

Dominici, F., Zanobetti, A., Schwartz, J., Braun, D., Sabath, B., Wu, X., 2019. Assessing Adverse Health Effects of Long- Term Exposure to Low Levels of Ambient Air Pollution: Implementation of Causal Inference Methods.

Dominski, F.H., Lorenzetti Branco, J.H., Buonanno, G., Stabile, L., Gameiro da Silva, M., Andrade, A., 2021. Effects of air pollution on health: A mapping review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Environ. Res. 201, 111487.

Grant, A., Leung, G., Aubin, M.-J., Kergoat, M.-J., Li, G., Freeman, E.E., 2021. Fine Particulate Matter and Age-Related Eye Disease: The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 62, 7.

Health Effects Institute. 2020. State of Global Air 2020. Data source: Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. IHME, 2020.

Health Effects Institute, 2014. 14-3 Assessing Health Effects of Long-term Exposure to Low Levels of Ambient Air Pollution [WWW Document]. Health Eff. Inst. URL (accessed 4.14.23).

Kusters, M.S.W., E. Essers, R. Muetzel, A. Ambrós, H. Tiemeier, and M. Guxens. ‘Air Pollution Exposure during Pregnancy and Childhood, Cognitive Function, and Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Adolescents’. Environmental Research 214 (2022).

Lee, D., Robertson, C., Ramsay, C., Gillespie, C., Napier, G., 2019. Estimating the health impact of air pollution in Scotland, and the resulting benefits of reducing concentrations in city centres. Spat. Spatio-Temporal Epidemiol. 29, 85–96.

So, R., Andersen, Z.J., Chen, J., Stafoggia, M., de Hoogh, K., Katsouyanni, K., Vienneau, D., Rodopoulou, S., Samoli, E., Lim, Y.-H., Jørgensen, J.T., Amini, H., Cole-Hunter, T., Mahmood Taghavi Shahri, S., Maric, M., Bergmann, M., Liu, S., Azam, S., Loft, S., Westendorp, R.G.J., Mortensen, L.H., Bauwelinck, M., Klompmaker, J.O., Atkinson, R., Janssen, N.A.H., Oftedal, B., Renzi, M., Forastiere, F., Strak, M., Thygesen, L.C., Brunekreef, B., Hoek, G., Mehta, A.J., 2022. Long-term exposure to air pollution and mortality in a Danish nationwide administrative cohort study: Beyond mortality from cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer. Environ. Int. 164, 107241.

So, R., Chen, J., Stafoggia, M., de Hoogh, K., Katsouyanni, K., Vienneau, D., Samoli, E., Rodopoulou, S., Loft, S., Lim, Y.-H., Westendorp, R.G.J., Amini, H., Cole-Hunter, T., Bergmann, M., Shahri, S.M.T., Zhang, J., Maric, M., Mortensen, L.H., Bauwelinck, M., Klompmaker, J.O., Atkinson, R.W., Janssen, N.A.H., Oftedal, B., Renzi, M., Forastiere, F., Strak, M., Brunekreef, B., Hoek, G., Andersen, Z.J., 2023. Long-term exposure to elemental components of fine particulate matter and all-natural and cause-specific mortality in a Danish nationwide administrative cohort study. Environ. Res. 224, 115552.

Willocks, L.J., Bhaskar, A., Ramsay, C.N., Lee, D., Brewster, D.H., Fischbacher, C.M., Chalmers, J., Morris, G., Scott, E.M., 2012. Cardiovascular disease and air pollution in Scotland: no association or insufficient data and study design? BMC Public Health 12, 227.

Yap, Christina, Iain J. Beverland, Mathew R. Heal, Geoffrey R. Cohen, Chris Robertson, Deborah E. J. Henderson, Neil S. Ferguson, Carole L. Hart, George Morris, and Raymond M. Agius. ‘Association between Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Specific Causes of Mortality in Scotland’. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 69, no. 12 (1 December 2012): 916–24.

Ziou, M., Gao, C.X., Wheeler, A.J., Zosky, G.R., Stephens, N., Knibbs, L.D., Williamson, G.J., Melody, S.M., Venn, A.J., Dalton, M.F., Dharmage, S.C., Johnston, F.H., 2023. Primary and pharmaceutical care usage concurrent associations with a severe smoke episode and low ambient air pollution in early life. Sci. Total Environ. 883, 163580.



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