Building the future by doing more together

Atmospheric Aerosol Impacts on Human Health
Coordinator - Casimiro Pio
Programme - POCTI 2010- Medida V4
Execution dates - 2005-11-01 - 2008-10-31 (36 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT
Funding for CESAM - 26892 €
Total Funding - 78205 €
Proponent Institution - INstituto Tecnológico e Nuclear
Participating Institutions
Universidade de Aveiro

Epidemiological studies have consistently shown an association between the incidence and prevalence of pulmonary diseases and the human exposure to Air Particulate Matter (APM). This projects aims at characterizing the health risks associated with exposure to APM and establish unequivocal relationships between them. The importance of understanding how the chemical composition contributes to the toxicity and human health problems traditionally associated with fine particles lies in the possibility of directing abatement plans to specific elements that pose most threat to human health. Based on the knowledge that this project aims at gathering, abatement strategies would be more cost-effective and customized to specific sources of fine particles and adapted to the studied areas, thus benefiting the population. This project proposes to establish, for the first-time in Portugal, an association between Portuguese atmospheric particle levels and composition, and respiratory diseases such as Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In addition, relevant emission sources influencing the concentration and composition of the particles will be identified and their health impact assessed. The Technological and Nuclear Institute and Aveiro University have developed international recognized studies on the characterization of APM. Their work produced important temporal and spatial databases that include detailed information on a large number of particle chemical constituents, spanning several areas of great environmental interest. Nowadays, these institutions are developing work in epidemiology, with the collaboration of national health specialists from the Faculty of Health Sciences, Pulido Valente Hospital and the Alergology Commission of the Portuguese Medical Society of Pneumology; and with international researchers from Delft University of Technology. On a first approach, these databases will be correlated with morbidity and mortality data, obtained from the national health system. In order to establish a more robust relationship between asthma incidence and the concentration and composition of particles, a studied group will be selected to allow an in-depth characterization of its environment. During one year, APM will be sampling and analyzed in an urban-industrial area. Asthmatic children attending school in that area will be identified and followed-up to ascertain and quantify a potential relationship between particle characteristics and the incidence of asthmatic crisis. This project will establish risk limits for particles and for the levels of some of their toxic constituents. Such results will generate important support information that could be the basis for future revisions of the European and National legislation. The direct associations between the contribution of emission sources and health outcomes will allow the introduction of focused and customized abatement strategies on industrial processes, traffic and urban planning, thereby reducing APM levels and reduce human health risks in a more cost-effective manner.

Members on this project
Casimiro Pio
Principal Researcher
Célia A. Alves

CESAM Funding: