Poor air quality is globally the largest environmental health risk. Epidemiological studies have uncovered clear relationships of gaseous pollutants and particulate matter (PM) with adverse health outcomes, including mortality by cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Studies of health impacts by aerosols are highly multidisciplinary with a broad range of scales in space and time. We assess recent advances and future challenges regarding aerosol effects on health from molecular to global scales through epidemiological studies, field measurements, health-related properties of PM, and multiphase interactions of oxidants and PM upon respiratory deposition. Global modeling combined with epidemiological exposure-response functions indicates that ambient air pollution causes more than four million premature deaths per year. Epidemiological studies usually refer to PM mass concentrations, but some health effects may relate to specific constituents such as bioaerosols, polycyclic aromatic compounds, and transition metals. Various analytical techniques and cellular and molecular assays are applied to assess the redox activity of PM and the formation of reactive oxygen species. Multiphase chemical interactions of lung antioxidants with atmospheric pollutants are crucial to the mechanistic and molecular understanding of oxidative stress upon respiratory deposition. The role of distinct PM components in health impacts and mortality needs to be clarified by integrated research on various spatiotemporal scales for better evaluation and mitigation of aerosol effects on public health in the Anthropocene.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry