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Health impacts of particulate matter in five major Estonian towns: main sources of exposure and local differences
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Estonian Environmental Research Centre Marja 4d Tallinn 10617 Estonia.
University of Tartu Department of Public Health Ravila 19 Tartu 50411 Estonia.
University of Tartu Department of Ecology and Geography Vanemuise 46 Tartu 50414 Estonia.
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2011 (English)In: Air quality, atmosphere and health, ISSN 1873-9318, Vol. 4, no 3-4, 247-258 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Particulate matter (PM) is the major air pollution problem with health impacts in Estonia. The prevailing sources of particles are traffic and local heating. In this study, we quantified the health effects of PM in neighbourhoods of five main cities with a health impact assessment (HIA) approach that uses information on exposure, baseline mortality/morbidity and exposure–response relationships from previous epidemiological studies. The exposure was defined as modelled PM2.5 annual levels and daily averages of PM10 (monitoring data in Tallinn and Kohtla-Järve and modelled levels in Tartu, Narva and Pärnu). The modelled results were validated with data from monitoring stations and additional measuring programmes. The annual average concentration of PM2.5 in the neighbourhoods studied varied from 7.6 to 23.6 μg m−3. The analysis indicated that the exposure above natural background corresponds to 462 [95% confidence interval (CI) 120–815] premature deaths, resulting in 6,034 (95% CI 1,583–10,309) years of life lost per year. The average decrease in life-expectancy at birth per resident of Tallinn was estimated to be 0.63 (95% CI 0.16–1.08) years. In the polluted city centres, this average decrease may reach >1 year and in Pärnu, it may reach 0.95 year. However, in the least polluted neighbourhood, the decrease of life expectancy was only 0.17 years. In addition, 231 (95% CI 145–306) respiratory and 338 (95% CI 205–454) cardiovascular hospitalisations per year could be expected. The majority of the external costs are related to the long-term effects on mortality and amount to €270 (95% CI 190–350) million annually. In comparison, the costs of hospitalisations contribute just €1.1 (95% CI 0.6–1.6) million. The main differences in health impacts were mostly driven by differences in the pollution sources, the magnitude of such sources and distribution patterns in the atmosphere. The smallest health effects, with the exception of the green residential areas, were observed in the industrial cities Kohtla-Järve and Narva (due to the small share contributed by local residential heating and relatively little car traffic). However, it is questionable whether the mass of fine particles is the best indicator of air pollution risk in such areas.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2011. Vol. 4, no 3-4, 247-258 p.
Keyword [en]
Health impact assessment, Air pollution, Particulate matter, Dispersion modelling, Traffic, Local heating, Costs
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-37346DOI: 10.1007/s11869-010-0075-6ISI: 000309479900011OAI: diva2:359467
Available from: 2010-10-28 Created: 2010-10-28 Last updated: 2015-04-02Bibliographically approved

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Orru, HansForsberg, Bertil
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