Temporal trends of PM10 and its impact on mortality in Lombardy, Italy

Michele Carugno, Dario Consonni, Pier Alberto Bertazzi, Annibale Biggeri, Michela Baccini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Exposure to particulate matter with diameter ≤10 μm (PM10) entails well documented adverse effects on human health. In the last decade, concentration of PM10 in Lombardy (10 million inhabitants), Italy, has been gradually decreasing. We evaluated how the mortality burden due to PM10 varied in that same period. Methods We focused on 13 areas of the Region in 2003–2014: 11 cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, 1 smaller alpine town and 1 agricultural province. For each area, we collected PM10 annual average concentrations and natural mortality data, and we used the posterior area-specific effects from a previous Bayesian meta-analysis to estimate the short-term impact of PM10 on mortality, in terms of deaths attributable (AD) to annual average exposures exceeding the WHO threshold of 20 μg/m3. Results PM10 annual average values showed a non-homogenous decreasing trend in the investigated time period in most of the areas. Overall, the population-weighted exposure levels decreased, except for a peak in 2011, but never met the WHO threshold. In 2003–2006, PM10 levels were responsible, on average, for 343.0 annual AD from natural causes that decreased to 253.5 in 2007–2010 and to 208.3 in 2011–2014. Overall we estimated that PM10 was responsible for about 1% of all natural deaths (min-max range: 0.86%–1.42%); the impact was heterogeneous among areas. Conclusions By collecting routinely available data for the most populated areas in Lombardy, we returned a picture of air pollution and health trends in the last decade. Notwithstanding the observed reduction in PM10 between 2003 and 2014 and the resulting decline in the number of AD, the impact is still relevant. Hence, appropriate policies for emission reduction could have a further beneficial effect on population health. Studies based on routine data and local effect estimates are recommended to properly inform the policy-making process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-286
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Air pollution
  • Health impact assessment
  • Mortality
  • Particulate matter
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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