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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Apr 2018

Research article | 10 Apr 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Trends in air pollutants and health impacts in three Swedish cities over the past three decades

Henrik Olstrup1, Bertil Forsberg3, Hans Orru3,4, Mårten Spanne5, Hung Nguyen6, Peter Molnár7, and Christer Johansson1,2 Henrik Olstrup et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Science Unit, Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, 11418 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Environment and Health Administration, SLB, Box 8136, 104 20 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, 90187 Umeå, Sweden
  • 4Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of Tartu, 500 90 Tartu, Estonia
  • 5Environment department, City of Malmö, 205 80 Malmö, Sweden
  • 6Environmental Administration in Gothenburg, Box 7012, 402 31, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 7Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital & University of Gothenburg, Medicinaregatan 16A, 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden

Abstract. Air pollution concentrations have been decreasing in many cities in the developed countries. We have estimated time trends and health effects associated with exposure to NOx, NO2, O3, and PM10 in the Swedish cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo from the 1990's to 2015. Trend analyses of concentrations have been performed by using the Mann-Kendall test and the Theil-Sen method. Measured concentrations are from central monitoring stations representing urban background levels, and they are assumed to indicate changes in long-term exposure to the population. However, corrections for population exposure have been performed for NOx, O3, and PM10 in Stockholm, and for NOx in Gothenburg. For NOx and PM10, the concentrations at the central monitoring stations are shown to overestimate exposure when compared to dispersion model calculations of spatially resolved population-weighted exposure concentrations, while the reverse applies to O3. The trends are very different for the pollutants that are studied; NOx and NO2 have been decreasing in all cities, O3 exhibits an increasing trend in all cities, and for PM10, there is a slowly decreasing trend in Stockholm, a slowly increasing trend in Gothenburg, and no significant trend in Malmo. When the trends are divided into weekdays and weekends, the decreasing trends associated with NOx and NO2 are more prominent during weekdays compared to weekends, indicating that local emission reductions from traffic to a large part have contributed to these declining trends.

Health effects in terms of changes in life expectancy are calculated based on the trends in exposure to NOx, NO2, O3, and PM10, and the relative risks associated with exposure to these pollutants. The decreased levels of NOx are estimated to increase the life expectancy by up to 11 months for Stockholm and 12 months for Gothenburg. This corresponds to up to one fifth of the total increase in life expectancy (54–70 months) in the cities during the period 1990–2015. In contrast to NOx and NO2, the changing trends associated with O3 and PM10 have relatively little impact on the change in life expectancy. NOx and NO2 are highly associated with vehicle exhaust emissions, indicating that decreasing road-traffic emissions have had significant impact on the public health in these cities.

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Henrik Olstrup et al.
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Short summary
This article analyzes the health effects caused by changes in air pollution concentrations during the period 1990–2015 in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo; the three largest cities in Sweden. The air pollutants that have been measured and analyzed are NOx, NO2, O3 and PM10. NOx and NO2 exhibit decreasing trends during this period, with beneficial effects on the public health. An overall conclusion is that the public health can largely benefit from reduced air pollution levels.
This article analyzes the health effects caused by changes in air pollution concentrations...