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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 4, Issue 6, Pages 323-328
Original Article

Particulate Air Pollution and Health: Emerging Issues and Research Needs Related to the Development of Air Quality Standards

Patrick A Hessel,1 John R Goldsmith,2 H-Erich Wichmann,3 William E Wilson,4 and Colin L Soskolne1

1Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
2Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
3GSF-Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany
4National Center for Environmental Assessment, United States Environmental Protection Agency, North Carolina, USA

Copyright © 1997 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The health effects of particulate air pollution were highlighted at the Eighth Annual Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, held in Edmonton, Alberta in August 1996. Despite consistent evidence for adverse respiratory and cardiovascular health effects related to particulate air pollution, there are significant gaps in the knowledge of the mechanisms whereby particulate air pollution affects human health. Questions regarding the appropriate measure of dose for assessing exposures relevant to health outcomes and the methods used to analyze dose-response data remain unanswered. Health effects have been demonstrated across the range of exposures that have been examined, and further research in low exposure settings is necessary to explore the lower end of the dose-response curve. Although a significant body of literature has been generated, comprehensive risk assessments have not been undertaken. Examination of the chronic effects of particulate air pollution and identification of high risk populations are necessary. Although there are significant unanswered questions regarding the health effects of particulate air pollution, the available information suggests that particulate air pollution at levels consistent with current standards is associated with measurable health effects.