Human health risk in relation to air quality in two municipalities in an industrialized area of Northern Italy

Elena Fattore, Viviana Paiano, Alessandro Borgini, Andrea Tittarelli, Martina Bertoldi, Paolo Crosignani, Roberto Fanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Air quality is one of the major environmental issues related to human health, and people and authorities are increasingly aware and concerned about it, asking to be involved in decisions whose fallout can have consequences on their health. The objectives of the present study were to provide quantitative data on the impact of air pollution on the health of people living in two small municipalities in a highly industrialized, densely populated area of Northern Italy. We applied the approach proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) using the AirQ 2.2.3 software developed by the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health, Bilthoven Division. Daily concentrations of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter of aerodynamic diameter ≤10μm (PM 10) and ≤2.5μm (PM 2.5) were used to assess human exposure and health effects in terms of attributable proportion of the health outcome, annual number of excess cases of mortality for all causes, and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Long-term effects were estimated for PM 2.5 as years of life lost.Considering short-term effects, PM 2.5 had the highest health impact on the 24,000 inhabitants of the two small towns, causing an excess of total mortality of 8 out of 177 in a year. Ozone and nitrogen dioxide each caused about three excess cases of total mortality. Results on long-term effects showed, respectively, 433, 180, and 72 years of life lost for mortality for all causes, cardiopulmonary diseases and lung cancer, in a year.These results are consistent with other reports of the impact of air quality on human health and the AirQ software seems an effective and easy tool, helpful in decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1321-1327
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • AirQ software
  • Mortality
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Ozone
  • Particulate matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Biochemistry


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