Impact of weather changes on air quality and related mortality in Spain over a 25 year period [1993-2017]



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Borgea, Rafael and Requia, Weeberb J. and Yagüe Anguis, Carlos and Jhund, Iny and Koutrakis, Petro (2019) Impact of weather changes on air quality and related mortality in Spain over a 25 year period [1993-2017]. Environment International, 133B . ISSN 0160-4120

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Climate change is a major public health concern. In addition to its direct impacts on temperature patterns and extreme weather events, climate change affects public health indirectly through its influence on air quality. Pollution trends are not only affected by emissions changes but also by weather changes. In this paper we analyze air quality trends in Spain of important air pollutants (C_(6)H_(6), CO, NO_(2), NO_(x), O_(3), PM_(10), PM_(2.5), and SO_(2)) recorded during the last 25 years, from 1993 to 2017. We found substantial reductions in ambient concentration levels for all the pollutants studied except for O_(3). To assess the influence of recent weather changes on air quality trends we applied generalized additive models (GAMs) using nonparametric smoothing; with and without adjusting for weather parameters including temperature, wind speed, humidity and precipitation frequency. The difference of annual slopes estimated by the models without and with adjusting for these meteorological variables represents the impact of weather changes on pollutant trends, i.e. the ‘weather penalty’. The analyses were seasonally and geographically stratified to account for temporal and regional differences across Spain. The results were meta-analyzed to estimate weather penalties on ambient concentration trends at a national level as well as the impact on mortality for the most relevant pollutants. We found significant penalties for most pollutants, implying that air quality would have improved even more during our study period if weather conditions had remained constant. The largest weather influences were found for PM10, with seasonal penalties up to 22 μg⋅m^(−3) accumulated over the 25-year period in some regions. The national meta-analysis shows penalties of 0.060 μg⋅m^(−3) per year (95% Confidence Interval, CI: 0.004, 0.116) in cold months and 0.127 μg⋅m^(−3) per year (95% CI: 0.089, 0.164) in warm months. Penalties of this magnitude would correspond to 129 annual deaths (95% CI: 25, 233), i.e. approximately 3200 deaths over the 25-year period in Spain. According to our results, the health benefits of recent emission abatements for this pollutant in Spain would have been up to 10% greater if weather conditions had remained constant during the last 25 years.

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© 2019. The Authors. The authors acknowledge the Air Quality Area of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition for providing hourly concentration data for the pollutants studied in the [1993-2017] period as well as the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) for providing meteorological observations. We thank John Evans for his help with the analysis and interpretation of the mortality impacts associated with our weather penalties. We would also like to acknowledge the Real Colegio Complutense (RCC) for the Visiting Scholar Fellowship to support the stay of the corresponding author at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The AIRTEC-CM research project (S2018/EMT-4329) partially funded this study. In addition, U.S. EPA grant numbers RD834798 and RD-835872 the U.S. EPA grant RD-834798-01 made this work possible. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. EPA. Further, the U.S. EPA does not endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in the publication. Finally, we want to acknowledge the anonymous reviewers whose valuable comments and discussion substantially contributed to improve our work.

Uncontrolled Keywords:Term ozone exposure; Climate-change; Particulate matter; Nitrogen-oxides; Co-benefits; Ambient air; Global burden; Surface ozone; health impact; Recent trends
Subjects:Sciences > Physics > Atmospheric physics
ID Code:59156
Deposited On:15 Apr 2020 09:05
Last Modified:15 Apr 2020 11:44

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