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Environ Res. 2015 Nov;143(Pt A):19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.09.007. Epub 2015 Sep 27.

The health benefits of reducing air pollution in Sydney, Australia.

Author information

Public Health Observatory, Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, Australia. Electronic address:
Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.
Public Health Observatory, Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, Australia.
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Sydney, Australia.
University Centre for Rural Health - North Coast, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; North Coast Public Health Unit, Mid North Coast Local Health District, NSW, Australia.


Among industrialised countries, fine particle (PM2.5) and ozone levels in the Sydney metropolitan area of Australia are relatively low. Annual mean PM2.5 levels have historically remained below 8 μg/m(3) while warm season (November-March) ozone levels occasionally exceed the Australian guideline value of 0.10 ppm (daily 1 h max). Yet, these levels are still below those seen in the United States and Europe. This analysis focuses on two related questions: (1) what is the public health burden associated with air pollution in Sydney; and (2) to what extent would reducing air pollution reduce the number of hospital admissions, premature deaths and number of years of life lost (YLL)? We addressed these questions by applying a damage function approach to Sydney population, health, PM2.5 and ozone data for 2007 within the BenMAP-CE software tool to estimate health impacts and economic benefits. We found that 430 premature deaths (90% CI: 310-540) and 5800 YLL (95% CI: 3900-7600) are attributable to 2007 levels of PM2.5 (about 2% of total deaths and 1.8% of YLL in 2007). We also estimate about 630 (95% CI: 410-840) respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions attributable to 2007 PM2.5 and ozone exposures. Reducing air pollution levels by even a small amount will yield a range of health benefits. Reducing 2007 PM2.5 exposure in Sydney by 10% would, over 10 years, result in about 650 (95% CI: 430-850) fewer premature deaths, a gain of 3500 (95% CI: 2300-4600) life-years and about 700 (95% CI: 450-930) fewer respiratory and cardiovascular hospital visits. These results suggest that substantial health benefits are attainable in Sydney with even modest reductions in air pollution.


Australia; Environmental benefits mapping andanalysis program – community edition; Fine particles; Health impact; Ozone; PM(2.5); Sydney

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