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expert reaction to modelling study on air pollution and deaths in Europe

Research published in European Heart Journal suggests that the health impacts attributable to air pollution in Europe are higher than previously thought.

Dr Holly Shiels, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Manchester, and member of the Physiological Society, said:

“This study has taken a recent Global Exposure Mortality Model (GEMM) published in 2018 (which is an improvement on earlier Integrated Exposure-Response (IER) models) and combined it with ambient air pollution data to generate a region by region risk profile for cardiovascular disease (CVD) associated with air pollution.  The output suggests earlier models underestimated the CVD risk associated with air pollution and we would tend to agree. 

“It is important to note that the WHO’s tobacco smoking deaths estimate was carried out in 2017 presumably using the earlier IER model, to substantiate the claim that air pollution is a bigger risk factor for CVD than smoking, the WHO’s data would require revaluation using the assumptions of the newer model.

“Overall, the new GEMM analysis further highlights the serious association between air pollution and cardiovascular-disease based mortality.  And although further studies are needed to reduce the large uncertainty associated with the risk, the call for reassessment of current UK and EU air quality regulations seems highly warranted.”

‘Cardiovascular disease burden from ambient air pollution in Europe reassessed using novel hazard ratio functions’ by Jos Lelieveld et al. was published in the European Heart Journal at 10am UK time on Tuesday 12 March 2019.

Declared interests

None received. 

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