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Systematic Literature Review on the Health Effects of Long-term Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution

The health effects of traffic-related air pollution continues to be of public health interest, with highest exposures in urban settings and residences in proximity to busy roadways.

Following its well-cited 2010 critical review, in 2018 the HEI Board of Directors appointed an expert HEI panel to review the scientific literature on traffic-related air pollution and health (see list of members below). Much new science has been published since the 2010 review.

The overall objective is to systematically evaluate the epidemiological evidence regarding the associations between long–term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and selected adverse health outcomes. The Panel will draw conclusions about the confidence in the strength of the evidence, discuss strengths and limitations of the existing studies, and make recommendations for future research. Results will be quantitatively combined to evaluate the strength of the evidence, where appropriate. In addition, the quantitative results of the review may be useful for future risk and health impact assessments of traffic-related air pollution.

The Panel formulated criteria for selection of health outcomes in the review, including policy and public health relevance. Selected health outcomes include all-cause and cause-specific mortality, respiratory effects, cardiovascular effects, diabetes, and birth outcomes.

The Panel is using a systematic approach to search the literature, assess study quality, summarize results, and reach conclusions about the body of evidence. To this end, a review protocol (pdf) has been published.

The review is currently well underway. The HEI Special Report is expected to undergo peer review in 2020 and publication is aimed for Summer 2021.

For more information please contact Hanna Boogaard at HEI.

HEI Panel on the Health Effects of Long-term Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution*

Francesco Forastiere, PhD (cochair)  Visiting Professor, Science Policy & Epidemiology, Environmental Research Group, King's College London, UK

Frederick Lurmann, MS (cochair)  Manager of Exposure Assessment Studies, Sonoma Technology, Inc., Petaluma, California

Richard Atkinson, PhD  Reader in Epidemiology, Population Health Research Institute and MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, St. George’s, University of London, UK

Jeffrey Brook, PhD  Assistant Professor, Occupational and Environmental Health Division, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada; Member, HEI Research Committee

Howard Chang, PhD  Associate Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

Gerard Hoek, PhD  Associate Professor, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Environmental Epidemiology, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Barbara Hoffmann, MD, MPH  Professor of Environmental Epidemiology, Institute of Occupational, Social, and Environmental Medicine, Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf, Germany; Member, HEI Research Committee

Sharon Sagiv, PhD  Assistant Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology, Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health, Division of Epidemiology, University of California Berkeley School of Public Health

Audrey Smargiassi, PhD  Associate Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Adam Szpiro, PhD  Associate Professor of Biostatistics, Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle

Danielle Vienneau, PhD  Senior Scientific Collaborator, Physical Hazards and Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland

Gregory Wellenius, ScD Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Jennifer Weuve, MPH, ScD  Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts

Consultants to the Panel

Frank Kelly, PhD, Professor of Environmental Health and Director of the Environmental Research Group, Kings College London, London, United Kingdom, HEI Review Committee

Evangelia Samoli, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, Dept. of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Contractor team

Meltem Kutlar Joss, Ron Kappeler and students supervised by Professor Nino Künzli, Swiss Literature Database and Services on Health Effects of Ambient Air Pollution (LUDOK), Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland