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Volume 18, issue 21 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 15705-15723, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Nov 2018

Research article | 01 Nov 2018

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, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Environment and Health Administration, SLB, P.O. 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, P.O. Box 7012, 402 31, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 7Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital & University of Gothenburg, 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 (particulate matter) in the Swedish cities Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö from the 1990s 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 Malmö. Trends associated with NOxand NO2 are mainly attributed to local emission reductions from traffic. Long-range transport and local emissions from road traffic (non-exhaust PM emissions) and residential wood combustion are the main sources of PM10. For O3, the trends are affected by long-range transport, and there is a net removal of O3 in the cities. The increasing trends are attributed to decreased net removal, as NOx emissions have been reduced.

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 of 1990–2015. Since the increased concentrations in O3 have a relatively small impact on the changes in life expectancy, the overall net effect is increased life expectancies in the cities that have been studied.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This article analyzes the health effects caused by changes in air pollution concentrations during the period of 1990–2015 in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö: 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 public health. An overall conclusion is that public health can largely benefit from reduced air pollution levels.
This article analyzes the health effects caused by changes in air pollution concentrations...