The health burden attributable to vehicle emissions exposure: Recent findings from the Global Snapshot Project

Clean air
Emissions modeling

The World Health Organization estimates that outdoor air pollution was responsible for 3.7 million annual premature deaths in 2012. Exposure to vehicle emissions or other mobile sources is a major contributor to this global disease burden, but we know little about how much is attributable to these emission sources. To guide actions to reduce these emissions, the international community needs information not only about the size of the problem and how it is distributed among countries, but also how the problem is changing over time in response to demographic and policy trends. An interdisciplinary set of knowledge from diverse fields including epidemiology, emissions modeling, and atmospheric chemistry is necessary to make such challenging estimates.

In a paper published in the journal of Environmental Research Letters in October 2014, the Clean Air Program at the International Council on Clean Transportation and its collaborators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill estimate the premature deaths from chronic exposure to ambient fine particulate matter attributable to surface transportation emissions in 2005. This includes global and national-level estimates of premature mortality and mortality risk.

This presentation will describe the steps taken to produce these estimates as well as the challenges confronted. A review of major research needs and opportunities will be presented that can inform a research agenda in this area. Future work will require interdisciplinary coordination, but such work is needed to guide the actions of national and international decision makers working to address one of the major risks to global public health.