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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 737926, 17 pages
Review Article

A Review of the Epidemiological Methods Used to Investigate the Health Impacts of Air Pollution around Major Industrial Areas

French Institute for Public Health Surveillance, 12 rue du Val d’Osne, 94 415 Staint-Maurice, France

Received 4 January 2013; Revised 19 March 2013; Accepted 18 April 2013

Academic Editor: Marco Martuzzi

Copyright © 2013 Mathilde Pascal et al. 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.


We performed a literature review to investigate how epidemiological studies have been used to assess the health consequences of living in the vicinity of industries. 77 papers on the chronic effects of air pollution around major industrial areas were reviewed. Major health themes were cancers (27 studies), morbidity (25 studies), mortality (7 studies), and birth outcome (7 studies). Only 3 studies investigated mental health. While studies were available from many different countries, a majority of papers came from the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain. Several studies were motivated by concerns from the population or by previous observations of an overincidence of cases. Geographical ecological designs were largely used for studying cancer and mortality, including statistical designs to quantify a relationship between health indicators and exposure. Morbidity was frequently investigated through cross-sectional surveys on the respiratory health of children. Few multicenter studies were performed. In a majority of papers, exposed areas were defined based on the distance to the industry and were located from <2 km to >20 km from the plants. Improving the exposure assessment would be an asset to future studies. Criteria to include industries in multicenter studies should be defined.