Health impact of PM10 and ozone in 13 Italian cities (2006)



Over the last few decades, the evidence on the adverse effects on health of air pollution has been mounting. A broad range of adverse health outcomes due to short- and long-term exposure to air pollutants, at levels usually experienced by urban populations throughout the world, are established.

This report estimates the health impact of PM10 and ozone on urban populations of 13 large Italian cities. To do so, concentration-response risk coefficients were derived from epidemiological studies, and 25 adverse health outcomes and different exposure scenarios were considered. Average PM10 levels for the years 2002–2004 ranged from 26.3 μg/m3 to 61.1 μg/m3. The health impact of air pollution in Italian cities is large: 8220 deaths a year, on average, are attributable to PM10 concentrations above 20 μg/m3. This is 9% of the mortality for all causes (excluding accidents) in the population over 30 years of age; the impact on short-term mortality, again for PM10 above 20 μg/m3, is 1372 deaths, which is 1.5% of the total mortality in the whole population. Hospital
admissions attributable to PM10 are of a similar magnitude. Also, the impact of ozone at concentrations higher than 70 μg/m3 amounts to 0.6% of all causes of mortality. Higher figures were obtained for the effects on heath that result in morbidity.

The magnitude of the health impact estimated for the 13 Italian cities underscores the need for urgent action to reduce the health burden of air pollution. Compliance with European Union legislation can result in substantial savings, in terms of ill health avoided. Also, local authorities, through policies that aim mainly to reduce emissions from urban transport and energy production, can achieve sizeable health gains.