International study linking urban pollution to mortality risk includes Rollins co-investigator

August 24, 2019

A multicountry collaborative study led by researchers around the world, including Noah Scovronick, PhD, assistant professor of environmental health at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health, has found an increased risk of mortality in the short-term after exposures to even small concentrations of urban air pollution. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

In what is the largest epidemiological assessment to date on the short-term effects of air pollution, the researchers gathered time-series data from 652 cities in 24 countries from 1986-2015, and applied sophisticated statistical methods to compare daily mortality with levels of particulate matter. They found that, on average, a 10 microgram/m3 increase in inhalable (PM10) and fine (PM2.5) particles is associated with an increase in mortality of 0.44 percent and 0.68 percent. The data was collected within the Multi-Country Multi-City Collaborative Research Network, an international collaboration studying the association between environmental stressors, climate change, and health.

“The results of this study reinforce the link between air pollution and mortality and indicate that exposure can have important negative health impacts even in areas where air quality is considered to be relatively good,” Scovronick says. “Furthermore, even though the effects may seem small in percentage terms, it’s important to remember that overall health burdens are still large, since everybody is exposed to some level of air pollution.”