Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-1472
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-1472
19 Jul 2023
 | 19 Jul 2023

Opinion: how are advances in aerosol science informing our understanding of the health impacts of outdoor particulate pollution?

Imad El Haddad, Kaspar Daellenbach, Robin Modini, Jay Slowik, Abhishek Upadhyay, David Bell, Danielle Vienneau, Kees De Hoogh, and Andre S. H. Prevot

Abstract. Air pollution poses the greatest environmental threat to human health, causing an estimated nine million premature deaths annually and accounting for 5 % of the global GDP. This opinion paper explores how advances in aerosol science inform our understanding of the health impacts of outdoor particulate pollution. In the article, we advocate for a shift from solely considering total particulate matter (PM) mass to utilizing specific PM components as metrics for health assessments. This will allow targeted evidence-based interventions, limiting the most harmful anthropogenic emissions, while exempting uncontrollable or non-detrimental components. Central to this shift is the availability of global long-term PM chemical composition data obtained through field observations and modelling outputs. These data will serve as the new foundation for identifying the most harmful chemical components in different regions. We discuss emerging modelling tools for personalized exposure estimation to these components, present the type of ambient observations needed for model evaluation and highlight key gaps in our fundamental understanding of emissions and their health effects. Through global PM chemical composition data, advancements in modelling tools, and collaboration between aerosol scientists and epidemiologists, we can gain a deeper understanding of how different PM components influence disease development. The reevaluation of air quality guidelines with a focus on specific PM components will be essential for fostering healthier environments, preventing diseases and building resilient communities.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Imad El Haddad, Kaspar Daellenbach, Robin Modini, Jay Slowik, Abhishek Upadhyay, David Bell, Danielle Vienneau, Kees De Hoogh, and Andre S. H. Prevot

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1472', Anonymous Referee #1, 09 Aug 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Imad El Haddad, 30 Apr 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1472', Anonymous Referee #2, 17 Nov 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Imad El Haddad, 30 Apr 2024
Imad El Haddad, Kaspar Daellenbach, Robin Modini, Jay Slowik, Abhishek Upadhyay, David Bell, Danielle Vienneau, Kees De Hoogh, and Andre S. H. Prevot
Imad El Haddad, Kaspar Daellenbach, Robin Modini, Jay Slowik, Abhishek Upadhyay, David Bell, Danielle Vienneau, Kees De Hoogh, and Andre S. H. Prevot

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While it has been established for decades that particulate matter, especially the PM2.5 fraction, can be quantitatively linked to a variety of negative health outcomes from both long- and short-term exposure, our ability to conclusively link this to specific particle components or types has proved stubbornly elusive. If particular sources or chemical components were found to be the driving factors, these could lead to more effective interventions and regulations. Because of recent advances in our observational capabilities and fundamental understanding of particle composition and toxicity, this opinion piece argues that we are at a pivotal moment in this ongoing area of study, and summarises some recent advances in this area.
Short summary
This opinion paper explores how advances in aerosol science inform our understanding of the health impacts of outdoor particulate pollution. We advocate for a shift in the way we target PM pollution, focusing the most harmful anthropogenic emissions, while exempting uncontrollable or non-detrimental components. We highlight key observations and modelling developments needed to achieve this shift.