Relationship between air pollution, health and welfare will now be researched

Are certain groups in society more likely to suffer from disease and premature death due to air pollution in the Nordic countries? If this is the case, what significance does it have for the distribution of welfare in the Nordic countries? New Nordic research collaboration will try to come up with some answers to these questions.

The aim is better regulation of air pollutants in the Nordic countries and high priority for actions on sources that have the largest negative impacts on human health. The negative effects can then be reduced in the most cost effective way possible.

Major costs for society

Air pollution currently costs Sweden around SEK 42 billion annually. The distribution of these costs between different groups in society, and the question of disproportionate suffering, have not been investigated.

"We obtain unique and powerful research material through this study on the links between air quality, health outcomes and demography across the Nordic region. It can be used as a basis for decisions to counteract the adverse health effects related to air pollution, where it is most needed," says Camilla Andersson, project manager at SMHI.

Collaboration behind database

Alongside Aarhus University in Denmark and the Finnish Meteorological Institute, SMHI will be modelling air pollution per square kilometre in the Nordic region. There are two other Swedish partners in the project: Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Umeå University, which will examine new health correlations, and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, IVL, which will analyse the socio-economic aspects of air quality's impact on health and welfare.

A shared database will be created in the project which will, for the first time, enable the modelling of air pollution levels and exposure at the same geographical level of detail for all the Nordic countries.

The research collaboration is called NordicWelfAir, Understanding the link between Air pollution and the Distribution of related Health Impacts and Welfare in the Nordic Countries. The project will continue for five years and has been granted funding of NOK 30 million from the NordForsk programme for health and welfare. There are 17 organisations from Sweden and other Nordic countries involved in the collaboration. Aarhus University is leading the project as a whole, while the modelling activities are led by SMHI.