Skip to main content

Air pollution and associated human mortality: the role of air pollutant emissions, climate change and methane concentration increases from the preindustrial period to present

Author(s): Fang, Y.; Naik, V.; Horowitz, L. W.; Mauzerall, Denise L.

To refer to this page use:
Abstract: Increases in surface ozone (O-3) and fine particulate matter (<= 2.5 mu m aerodynamic diameter, PM2.5) are associated with excess premature human mortalities. We estimate changes in surface O-3 and PM2.5 from pre-industrial (1860) to present (2000) and the global present-day (2000) premature human mortalities associated with these changes. We extend previous work to differentiate the contribution of changes in three factors: emissions of short-lived air pollutants, climate change, and increased methane (CH4) concentrations, to air pollution levels and associated premature mortalities. We use a coupled chemistry-climate model in conjunction with global population distributions in 2000 to estimate exposure attributable to concentration changes since 1860 from each factor. Attributable mortalities are estimated using health impact functions of long-term relative risk estimates for O-3 and PM2.5 from the epidemiology literature. We find global mean surface PM2.5 and health-relevant O-3 (defined as the maximum 6-month mean of 1-h daily maximum O-3 in a year) have increased by 8+/-0.16 mu gm(-3) and 30+/-0.16 ppbv (results reported as annual average +/-standard deviation of 10-yr model simulations), respectively, over this industrial period as a result of combined changes in emissions of air pollutants (EMIS), climate (CLIM) and CH4 concentrations (TCH4). EMIS, CLIM and TCH4 cause global population-weighted average PM2.5 (O-3) to change by +7.5+/-0.19 mu gm(-3) (+25+/-0.30 ppbv), +0.4+/-0.17 mu gm(-3) (+0.5+/-0.28 ppbv), and 0.04+/-0.24 mu gm(-3) (+4.3+/-0.33 ppbv), respectively. Total global changes in PM2.5 are associated with 1.5 (95% confidence interval, CI, 1.2-1.8) million cardiopulmonary mortalities and 95 (95% CI, 44-144) thousand lung cancer mortalities annually and changes in O-3 are associated with 375 (95% CI, 129-592) thousand respiratory mortalities annually. Most air pollution mortality is driven by changes in emissions of short-lived air pollutants and their precursors (95% and 85% of mortalities from PM2.5 and O-3 respectively). However, changing climate and increasing CH4 concentrations also contribute to premature mortality associated with air pollution globally (by up to 5% and 15 %, respectively). In some regions, the contribution of climate change and increased CH4 together are responsible for more than 20% of the respiratory mortality associated with O-3 exposure. We find the interaction between climate change and atmospheric chemistry has influenced atmospheric composition and human mortality associated with industrial air pollution. Our study highlights the benefits to air quality and human health of CH4 mitigation as a component of future air pollution control policy.
Publication Date: 2013
Electronic Publication Date: 4-Feb-2013
Citation: Fang, Y., Naik, V., Horowitz, L. W., Mauzerall, D. L. (2013). Air pollution and associated human mortality: the role of air pollutant emissions, climate change and methane concentration increases from the preindustrial period to present. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13 (3), 1377 - 1394. doi:10.5194/acp-13-1377-2013
DOI: 10.5194/acp-13-1377-2013
EISSN: 1680-7324
Pages: 1377 - 1394
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

Items in OAR@Princeton are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.