Challenges in Measuring and Assessing Environmental Health

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Air Quality and Human Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2020) | Viewed by 29761

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Faculty of Engineering and Health Management, Laboratory of Plant and Fungal Sciences LGCgE, University of Lille, 59000 Lille, France
Interests: plant bioaccumulation; soils contamination; heavy metal; environmental risk assessment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The existence of a link between health, socioeconomic, and environmental factors no longer needs to be demonstrated. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that almost a quarter (23%) of the world’s premature deaths in 2012 were due to the environment (Prüss-Ustün et al., 2016). Air pollution is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. In 2013, IARC classified diesel emissions and outdoor air pollution as carcinogens for humans. Among the 3000 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants in which air quality is monitored, 80% of people live in an environment that does not respect the limits set by the WHO. In Europe, the APHEKOM program (2008–2011), deployed in 12 countries and 25 cities, concluded that exceeding the WHO guide value for these atmospheric particles results in 19,000 premature deaths each year, including 15,000 deaths for cardiovascular causes.

However, characterizing this health–environment link is often still difficult. This is notably due to the multitude of contexts in which humans can be exposed and the non-specificity of health responses. Added to this is the fact that the appearance of certain pathologies may depend on the exposure period (latency time) and the genetic susceptibility of individuals. Thus, the health status of a population can be affected by a complex set of individual determinants as well as social and environmental factors. Currently, studies tend to gather evidence but the correlation between exposure to a deteriorated environment and a degraded state of health remains difficult to establish.

Consequently, this Special Issue of Atmosphere welcomes contributions on aspects of air quality related to the health of populations. Publications dealing with methodologies for highlighting, validating, qualifying, or quantifying the association between air pollution and human health are encouraged, as are critical analyses of these methods. Scientific work dealing with the optimization of the link between environmental data and health determinants will be appreciated, along with transdisciplinary teamwork.

Sincerely,
Prof. Annabelle Deram
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • health effects of air quality
  • environmental health inequalities
  • health determinants
  • monitoring and biomonitoring of air quality

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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21 pages, 3376 KiB  
Article
A Case Study of Birch Pollen and the Synergy with Environmental Factors: Relation to Asthma in Montreal, Canada
by Alain Robichaud
Atmosphere 2021, 12(6), 789; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12060789 - 19 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2638
Abstract
Environmental factors such as air pollution are known to exacerbate respiratory illness and increase the overall health risk. However, on a daily or seasonal basis, the relation between air pollutants, weather and a disease such as asthma is not clear. When combined with [...] Read more.
Environmental factors such as air pollution are known to exacerbate respiratory illness and increase the overall health risk. However, on a daily or seasonal basis, the relation between air pollutants, weather and a disease such as asthma is not clear. When combined with aeroallergens such as birch pollen and under specific weather conditions, synergistic effects may increase symptoms of respiratory illness and morbidity and then reveal interesting links with environmental factors. Hence, it is important to improve the understanding of pollution-pollen-weather and broaden the public health message. Combined analysis and model simulation of aeroallergens, air pollution and weather as presented here is important to correctly evaluate health burdens and allow a better forecast of the potential health risk. However, analyzing the combined effects of several environmental factors is not well understood and represents a challenging task. This paper shows: (1) the results of data analysis performed in Montreal for asthma hospitalization in relation to complex synergistic environmental factors, and (2) model simulation of birch pollen using a coupled weather-air quality model (GEM-MACH) compared with model-data fusion of classical chemical species (e.g., near-surface ozone, nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter) in order to evaluate spatiotemporal vulnerable zone for asthma health risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Measuring and Assessing Environmental Health)
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16 pages, 3262 KiB  
Article
Development of a Health-Based Index to Identify the Association between Air Pollution and Health Effects in Mexico City
by Kevin Cromar, Laura Gladson, Mónica Jaimes Palomera and Lars Perlmutt
Atmosphere 2021, 12(3), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12030372 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3376
Abstract
Health risks from air pollution continue to be a major concern for residents in Mexico City. These health burdens could be partially alleviated through individual avoidance behavior if accurate information regarding the daily health risks of multiple pollutants became available. A split sample [...] Read more.
Health risks from air pollution continue to be a major concern for residents in Mexico City. These health burdens could be partially alleviated through individual avoidance behavior if accurate information regarding the daily health risks of multiple pollutants became available. A split sample approach was used in this study to create and validate a multi-pollutant, health-based air quality index. Poisson generalized linear models were used to assess the impacts of ambient air pollution (i.e., fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ground-level ozone (O3)) on a total of 610,982 daily emergency department (ED) visits for respiratory disease obtained from 40 facilities in the metropolitan area of Mexico City from 2010 to 2015. Increased risk of respiratory ED visits was observed for interquartile increases in the 4-day average concentrations of PM2.5 (Risk Ratio (RR) 1.03, 95% CI 1.01–1.04), O3 (RR 1.03, 95% CI 1.01–1.05), and to a lesser extent NO2 (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.99–1.02). An additive, multi-pollutant index was created using coefficients for these three pollutants. Positive associations of index values with daily respiratory ED visits was observed among children (ages 2–17) and adults (ages 18+). The use of previously unavailable daily health records enabled an assessment of short-term ambient air pollution concentrations on respiratory morbidity in Mexico City and the creation of a health-based air quality index, which is now currently in use in Mexico City. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Measuring and Assessing Environmental Health)
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21 pages, 2674 KiB  
Article
Air Pollution Measurements and Land-Use Regression in Urban Sub-Saharan Africa Using Low-Cost Sensors—Possibilities and Pitfalls
by Asmamaw Abera, Kristoffer Mattisson, Axel Eriksson, Erik Ahlberg, Geremew Sahilu, Bezatu Mengistie, Abebe Genetu Bayih, Abraham Aseffaa, Ebba Malmqvist and Christina Isaxon
Atmosphere 2020, 11(12), 1357; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11121357 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 4297
Abstract
Air pollution is recognized as the most important environmental factor that adversely affects human and societal wellbeing. Due to rapid urbanization, air pollution levels are increasing in the Sub-Saharan region, but there is a shortage of air pollution monitoring. Hence, exposure data to [...] Read more.
Air pollution is recognized as the most important environmental factor that adversely affects human and societal wellbeing. Due to rapid urbanization, air pollution levels are increasing in the Sub-Saharan region, but there is a shortage of air pollution monitoring. Hence, exposure data to use as a base for exposure modelling and health effect assessments is also lacking. In this study, low-cost sensors were used to assess PM2.5 (particulate matter) levels in the city of Adama, Ethiopia. The measurements were conducted during two separate 1-week periods. The measurements were used to develop a land-use regression (LUR) model. The developed LUR model explained 33.4% of the variance in the concentrations of PM2.5. Two predictor variables were included in the final model, of which both were related to emissions from traffic sources. Some concern regarding influential observations remained in the final model. Long-term PM2.5 and wind direction data were obtained from the city’s meteorological station, which should be used to validate the representativeness of our sensor measurements. The PM2.5 long-term data were however not reliable. Means of obtaining good reference data combined with longer sensor measurements would be a good way forward to develop a stronger LUR model which, together with improved knowledge, can be applied towards improving the quality of health. A health impact assessment, based on the mean level of PM2.5 (23 µg/m3), presented the attributable burden of disease and showed the importance of addressing causes of these high ambient levels in the area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Measuring and Assessing Environmental Health)
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15 pages, 8154 KiB  
Article
Spatial and Temporal Exposure Assessment to PM2.5 in a Community Using Sensor-Based Air Monitoring Instruments and Dynamic Population Distributions
by Jinhyeon Park, Wondeuk Jo, Mansu Cho, Jeongil Lee, Hunjoo Lee, SungChul Seo, Chulmin Lee and Wonho Yang
Atmosphere 2020, 11(12), 1284; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11121284 - 28 Nov 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3523
Abstract
This research was to conduct a pilot study for two consecutive days in order to assess fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure of an entire population in a community. We aimed to construct a surveillance system by analyzing the observed spatio-temporal variation [...] Read more.
This research was to conduct a pilot study for two consecutive days in order to assess fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure of an entire population in a community. We aimed to construct a surveillance system by analyzing the observed spatio-temporal variation of exposure. Guro-gu in Seoul, South Korea, was divided into 2,204 scale grids of 100 m each. Hourly exposure concentrations of PM2.5 were modeled by the inverse distance weighted method, using 24 sensor-based air monitoring instruments and the indoor-to-outdoor concentration ratio. Population distribution was assessed using mobile phone network data and indoor residential rates, according to sex and age over time. Exposure concentration, population distribution, and population exposure were visualized to present spatio-temporal variation. The PM2.5 exposure of the entire population of Guro-gu was calculated by population-weighted average exposure concentration. The average concentration of outdoor PM2.5 was 42.1 µg/m3, which was lower than the value of the beta attenuation monitor measured by fixed monitoring station. Indoor concentration was estimated using an indoor-to-outdoor PM2.5 concentration ratio of 0.747. The population-weighted average exposure concentration of PM2.5 was 32.4 µg/m3. Thirty-one percent of the population exceeded the Korean Atmospheric Environmental Standard for PM2.5 over a 24 h average period. The results of this study can be used in a long-term aggregate and cumulative PM2.5 exposure assessment, and as a basis for policy decisions on public health management among policymakers and stakeholders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Measuring and Assessing Environmental Health)
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17 pages, 807 KiB  
Article
Air Pollution and Mortality: Timing Is Everything
by Frederick W. Lipfert
Atmosphere 2020, 11(12), 1274; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11121274 - 25 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1880
Abstract
This paper considers timing issues in health-effect exposure and response studies. Short-term studies must consider delayed and cumulative responses; prior exposures, disease latency, and cumulative impacts are required for long-term studies. Lacking individual data, long-term air quality describes locations, as do greenspaces and [...] Read more.
This paper considers timing issues in health-effect exposure and response studies. Short-term studies must consider delayed and cumulative responses; prior exposures, disease latency, and cumulative impacts are required for long-term studies. Lacking individual data, long-term air quality describes locations, as do greenspaces and traffic density, rather than exposures of residents. Indoor air pollution can bias long-term exposures and effect estimates but short-term effects also respond to infiltrated outdoor air. Daily air quality fluctuations may affect the frail elderly and are necessarily included in long-term averages; any true long-term effects must be given by differences between annual and daily effects. I found such differences to be negligible after adjusting for insufficient lag effects in time-series studies and neglect of prior exposures in long-term studies. Aging of subjects under study implies cumulative exposures, but based on age-specific mortality, I found relative risks decreasing with age, precluding cumulative effects. A new type of time-series study found daily mortality of previously frail subjects to be associated with various pollutants without exposure thresholds, but the role of air pollution in the onset of frailty remains an unexplored issue. The importance of short-term fluctuations has been underestimated and putative effects of long-term exposures have been overestimated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Measuring and Assessing Environmental Health)
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16 pages, 3269 KiB  
Article
Risk Assessment for People Exposed to PM2.5 and Constituents at Different Vertical Heights in an Urban Area of Taiwan
by Hsiu-Ling Chen, Chi-Pei Li, Chin-Sheng Tang, Shih-Chun Candice Lung, Hsiao-Chi Chuang, Da-Wei Chou and Li-Te Chang
Atmosphere 2020, 11(11), 1145; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11111145 - 22 Oct 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3243
Abstract
Environmental epidemiological studies have consistently reported associations between ambient particulate matter (PM) concentrations and everyday mortality/morbidity. Many urban dwellers in Asia live in high-rise apartment buildings; thus, the pollutant concentrations of their immediate outdoor environments are affected by the vertical distribution of pollutants [...] Read more.
Environmental epidemiological studies have consistently reported associations between ambient particulate matter (PM) concentrations and everyday mortality/morbidity. Many urban dwellers in Asia live in high-rise apartment buildings; thus, the pollutant concentrations of their immediate outdoor environments are affected by the vertical distribution of pollutants in the atmosphere. The vertical distributions of pollutants provide unique information about their sources and dynamic transport in urban areas, as well as their relationship to people’s exposure at ground level, while the vertical distributions of pollutants have rarely been considered in exposure assessment. In the current study, PM concentrations (with aerodynamic diameters less than 1.0 μm (PM1), 2.5 μm (PM2.5), and 10 μm (PM10)), nanoparticles, black carbon (BC), and particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (p-PAHs) were measured at different residential heights—6 m, 16 m, and 27 m—at Feng Chia University near a popular night market in Western Taiwan. PM2.5 data were further adopted for health risk estimations. In winter, the magnitude of PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 concentrations were 16 m > 6 m > 27 m; nanoparticle concentrations were 6 m > 27 m > 16 m; and BC and p-PAHs concentrations were 27 m > 16 m > 6 m. In summer, PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 concentrations ranged from 6 m > 16 m > 27 m; nanoparticle concentrations were 6 m > 16 m; and BC and p-PAHs concentrations were from 27 m > 16 m. PM and constituents concentrations during winter were significantly higher in the nighttime than those in daytime, and levels of PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 increased rapidly on 6 m and 16 m heights (but did not increase at 27 m) after 5 pm, whereas these trends became less significant in summer. Health risk analysis for PM2.5 concentrations showed a decrease in lung cancer mortality rate and an extended lifespan for residents living at 27 m. Overall, the current study investigated the vertical profile of particulate matters and analyzed health impacts of PM2.5 at different residential heights in urban area of Taiwan. As the distributions of PM and the constituents varied at different residential heights, exposure and risk assessment of particle concentrations with multiple sizes and various components at broader vertical heights should be further investigated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Measuring and Assessing Environmental Health)
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Review

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30 pages, 861 KiB  
Review
Combined Effect of Hot Weather and Outdoor Air Pollution on Respiratory Health: Literature Review
by Elena Grigorieva and Artem Lukyanets
Atmosphere 2021, 12(6), 790; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12060790 - 19 Jun 2021
Cited by 46 | Viewed by 9851
Abstract
Association between short-term exposure to ambient air pollution and respiratory health is well documented. At the same time, it is widely known that extreme weather events intrinsically exacerbate air pollution impact. Particularly, hot weather and extreme temperatures during heat waves (HW) significantly affect [...] Read more.
Association between short-term exposure to ambient air pollution and respiratory health is well documented. At the same time, it is widely known that extreme weather events intrinsically exacerbate air pollution impact. Particularly, hot weather and extreme temperatures during heat waves (HW) significantly affect human health, increasing risks of respiratory mortality and morbidity. Concurrently, a synergistic effect of air pollution and high temperatures can be combined with weather–air pollution interaction during wildfires. The purpose of the current review is to summarize literature on interplay of hot weather, air pollution, and respiratory health consequences worldwide, with the ultimate goal of identifying the most dangerous pollution agents and vulnerable population groups. A literature search was conducted using electronic databases Web of Science, Pubmed, Science Direct, and Scopus, focusing only on peer-reviewed journal articles published in English from 2000 to 2021. The main findings demonstrate that the increased level of PM10 and O3 results in significantly higher rates of respiratory and cardiopulmonary mortality. Increments in PM2.5 and PM10, O3, CO, and NO2 concentrations during high temperature episodes are dramatically associated with higher admissions to hospital in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, daily hospital emergency transports for asthma, acute and chronic bronchitis, and premature mortality caused by respiratory disease. Excessive respiratory health risk is more pronounced in elderly cohorts and small children. Both heat waves and outdoor air pollution are synergistically linked and are expected to be more serious in the future due to greater climate instability, being a crucial threat to global public health that requires the responsible involvement of researchers at all levels. Sustainable urban planning and smart city design could significantly reduce both urban heat islands effect and air pollution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Measuring and Assessing Environmental Health)
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