A EURO Publication Series

Health Risks of Ozone from Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution

March 2009
More details
  • Publisher
    World Health Organization
  • Published
    31st March 2009
  • ISBN 9789289042895
  • Language English
  • Pages 106 pp.
  • Size 6.25" x 9.5"

Ozone is a highly oxidative compound formed in the lower atmosphere (from gases originating to a large extent from anthropogenic sources) by photochemistry driven by solar radiation. Owing to its highly reactive chemical properties, ozone is harmful to vegetation, materials and human health. In the troposphere, ozone is also an efficient greenhouse gas.

This report summarizes the results of a multidisciplinary analysis to assess the effects of ozone on health. The analysis indicates that ozone pollution affects the health of most of the populations of the WHO European Region, leading to a wide range of health problems. The effects include some 21,000 premature deaths each year in 25 countries in the European Union on and after days with high ozone levels. Current policies are not sufficient to reduce ozone levels in the Region or their impact in the next decade.

Executive summary; 1) Introduction; 2) Hazard assessment of ozone: Ozone toxicokinetics; Acute responses; Chronic effects in humans; Thresholds; Susceptible groups; Health Implications; 3) Sources of ozone precursors: Ozone formation and atmospheric transport; Sources of ozone precursor emissions; Projections of future emissions of ozone precursors; Interactions of ozone precursor emissions with other environmental problems; 4) Ozone levels: Monitoring results; Observed ozone trends; Modelling techniques and validation; Ozone and climate change; 5) Population exposure projections: Exposure versus ambient measurements; Population exposure modelling; 6) Risk estimates: Effects of ozone on mortality; Estimation of impacts on morbidity; Health effects and cost–benefit analysis; Transferability between populations; Evidence on reversibility of the health impacts; 7) Conclusions: Ozone air pollution is a significant health hazard in Europe; Health effects of long-range transboundary ozone are most likely proportional to the contribution of long-range sources to ozone exposure levels; Current policies lead to only a small reduction in risk; Key uncertainties, research needs and policy implications; References; Annex 1: List of Working Group members and reviewers.