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Clinics

Print version ISSN 1807-5932

Abstract

OLMO, Neide Regina Simoes et al. A review of low-level air pollution and adverse effects on human health: implications for epidemiological studies and public policy. Clinics [online]. 2011, vol.66, n.4, pp. 681-690. ISSN 1807-5932.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1807-59322011000400025.

The aim of this study was to review original scientific articles describing the relationship between atmospheric pollution and damage to human health. We also aimed to determine which of these studies mentioned public policy issues. Original articles relating to atmospheric pollution and human health published between 1995 and 2009 were retrieved from the PubMed database and analyzed. This study included only articles dealing with atmospheric pollutants resulting primarily from vehicle emissions. Three researchers were involved in the final selection of the studies, and the chosen articles were approved by at least two of the three researchers. Of the 84 non-Brazilian studies analyzed, 80 showed an association between atmospheric pollution and adverse effects on human health. Moreover, 66 showed evidence of adverse effects on human health, even at levels below the permitted emission standards. Three studies mentioned public policies aimed at changing emission standards. Similarly, the 29 selected Brazilian studies reported adverse associations with human health, and 27 showed evidence of adverse effects even at levels below the legally permitted emission standards. Of these studies, 16 mentioned public policies aimed at changing emission standards. Based on the Brazilian and non-Brazilian scientific studies that have been conducted, it can be concluded that, even under conditions that are compliant with Brazilian air quality standards, the concentration of atmospheric pollutants in Brazil can negatively affect human health. However, as little discussion of this topic has been generated, this finding demonstrates the need to incorporate epidemiological evidence into decisions regarding legal regulations and to discuss the public policy implications in epidemiological studies.

Keywords : Air pollution; adverse effects; human health; publication bias; public policies; systematic review.

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