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      Air pollution and public health: emerging hazards and improved understanding of risk

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          Abstract

          Despite past improvements in air quality, very large parts of the population in urban areas breathe air that does not meet European standards let alone the health-based World Health Organisation Air Quality Guidelines. Over the last 10 years, there has been a substantial increase in findings that particulate matter (PM) air pollution is not only exerting a greater impact on established health endpoints, but is also associated with a broader number of disease outcomes. Data strongly suggest that effects have no threshold within the studied range of ambient concentrations, can occur at levels close to PM 2.5 background concentrations and that they follow a mostly linear concentration–response function. Having firmly established this significant public health problem, there has been an enormous effort to identify what it is in ambient PM that affects health and to understand the underlying biological basis of toxicity by identifying mechanistic pathways—information that in turn will inform policy makers how best to legislate for cleaner air. Another intervention in moving towards a healthier environment depends upon the achieving the right public attitude and behaviour by the use of optimal air pollution monitoring, forecasting and reporting that exploits increasingly sophisticated information systems. Improving air quality is a considerable but not an intractable challenge. Translating the correct scientific evidence into bold, realistic and effective policies undisputedly has the potential to reduce air pollution so that it no longer poses a damaging and costly toll on public health.

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          Most cited references112

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          Fine-particulate air pollution and life expectancy in the United States.

          Exposure to fine-particulate air pollution has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality, suggesting that sustained reductions in pollution exposure should result in improved life expectancy. This study directly evaluated the changes in life expectancy associated with differential changes in fine particulate air pollution that occurred in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s. We compiled data on life expectancy, socioeconomic status, and demographic characteristics for 211 county units in the 51 U.S. metropolitan areas with matching data on fine-particulate air pollution for the late 1970s and early 1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s. Regression models were used to estimate the association between reductions in pollution and changes in life expectancy, with adjustment for changes in socioeconomic and demographic variables and in proxy indicators for the prevalence of cigarette smoking. A decrease of 10 microg per cubic meter in the concentration of fine particulate matter was associated with an estimated increase in mean (+/-SE) life expectancy of 0.61+/-0.20 year (P=0.004). The estimated effect of reduced exposure to pollution on life expectancy was not highly sensitive to adjustment for changes in socioeconomic, demographic, or proxy variables for the prevalence of smoking or to the restriction of observations to relatively large counties. Reductions in air pollution accounted for as much as 15% of the overall increase in life expectancy in the study areas. A reduction in exposure to ambient fine-particulate air pollution contributed to significant and measurable improvements in life expectancy in the United States. 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Ozone and short-term mortality in 95 US urban communities, 1987-2000.

            Ozone has been associated with various adverse health effects, including increased rates of hospital admissions and exacerbation of respiratory illnesses. Although numerous time-series studies have estimated associations between day-to-day variation in ozone levels and mortality counts, results have been inconclusive. To investigate whether short-term (daily and weekly) exposure to ambient ozone is associated with mortality in the United States. Using analytical methods and databases developed for the National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollution Study, we estimated a national average relative rate of mortality associated with short-term exposure to ambient ozone for 95 large US urban communities from 1987-2000. We used distributed-lag models for estimating community-specific relative rates of mortality adjusted for time-varying confounders (particulate matter, weather, seasonality, and long-term trends) and hierarchical models for combining relative rates across communities to estimate a national average relative rate, taking into account spatial heterogeneity. Daily counts of total non-injury-related mortality and cardiovascular and respiratory mortality in 95 large US communities during a 14-year period. A 10-ppb increase in the previous week's ozone was associated with a 0.52% increase in daily mortality (95% posterior interval [PI], 0.27%-0.77%) and a 0.64% increase in cardiovascular and respiratory mortality (95% PI, 0.31%-0.98%). Effect estimates for aggregate ozone during the previous week were larger than for models considering only a single day's exposure. Results were robust to adjustment for particulate matter, weather, seasonality, and long-term trends. These results indicate a statistically significant association between short-term changes in ozone and mortality on average for 95 large US urban communities, which include about 40% of the total US population. The findings indicate that this widespread pollutant adversely affects public health.
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              Ischemic and thrombotic effects of dilute diesel-exhaust inhalation in men with coronary heart disease.

              Exposure to air pollution from traffic is associated with adverse cardiovascular events. The mechanisms for this association are unknown. We conducted a controlled exposure to dilute diesel exhaust in patients with stable coronary heart disease to determine the direct effect of air pollution on myocardial, vascular, and fibrinolytic function. In a double-blind, randomized, crossover study, 20 men with prior myocardial infarction were exposed, in two separate sessions, to dilute diesel exhaust (300 mug per cubic meter) or filtered air for 1 hour during periods of rest and moderate exercise in a controlled-exposure facility. During the exposure, myocardial ischemia was quantified by ST-segment analysis using continuous 12-lead electrocardiography. Six hours after exposure, vasomotor and fibrinolytic function were assessed by means of intraarterial agonist infusions. During both exposure sessions, the heart rate increased with exercise (P<0.001); the increase was similar during exposure to diesel exhaust and exposure to filtered air (P=0.67). Exercise-induced ST-segment depression was present in all patients, but there was a greater increase in the ischemic burden during exposure to diesel exhaust (-22+/-4 vs. -8+/-6 millivolt seconds, P<0.001). Exposure to diesel exhaust did not aggravate preexisting vasomotor dysfunction, but it did reduce the acute release of endothelial tissue plasminogen activator (P=0.009; 35% decrease in the area under the curve). Brief exposure to dilute diesel exhaust promotes myocardial ischemia and inhibits endogenous fibrinolytic capacity in men with stable coronary heart disease. Our findings point to ischemic and thrombotic mechanisms that may explain in part the observation that exposure to combustion-derived air pollution is associated with adverse cardiovascular events. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00437138 [ClinicalTrials.gov].). Copyright 2007 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                44 20 7848 4004 , frank.kelly@kcl.ac.uk
                Journal
                Environ Geochem Health
                Environ Geochem Health
                Environmental Geochemistry and Health
                Springer Netherlands (Dordrecht )
                0269-4042
                1573-2983
                4 June 2015
                4 June 2015
                2015
                : 37
                : 4
                : 631-649
                Affiliations
                NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Health Impact of Environmental Hazards, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Facility of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London, 150 Stamford Street, London, SE1 9NH UK
                Article
                9720
                10.1007/s10653-015-9720-1
                4516868
                26040976
                6e75b85e-7551-4622-897a-78cef10115a1
                © The Author(s) 2015

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

                History
                : 23 February 2015
                : 28 May 2015
                Categories
                Original Paper
                Custom metadata
                © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

                pm toxicity,emerging risks,public awareness,air quality communication

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