International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 59, Issue 6, pp 933–944 | Cite as

Addressing equity in interventions to reduce air pollution in urban areas: a systematic review

  • Tarik Benmarhnia
  • Lynda Rey
  • Yuri Cartier
  • Christelle M. Clary
  • Séverine Deguen
  • Astrid BrousselleEmail author



We did a systematic review to assess quantitative studies investigating the association between interventions aiming to reduce air pollution, health benefits and equity effects.


Three databases were searched for studies investigating the association between evaluated interventions aiming to reduce air pollution and heath-related benefits. We designed a two-stage selection process to judge how equity was assessed and we systematically determined if there was a heterogeneous effect of the intervention between subgroups or subareas.


Of 145 identified articles, 54 were reviewed in-depth with eight satisfying the inclusion criteria. This systematic review showed that interventions aiming to reduce air pollution in urban areas have a positive impact on air quality and on mortality rates, but the documented effect on equity is less straightforward.


Integration of equity in evidence-based public health is a great challenge nowadays. In this review we draw attention to the importance of considering equity in air pollution interventions. We also propose further methodological and theoretical challenges when assessing equity in interventions to reduce air pollution and we present opportunities to develop this research area.


Air pollution Equity Evaluation 



The authors would like to thank the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the “Fonds de recherche en santé Québec” for funding Astrid Brousselle’s Canada Research Chair in Evaluation and Health System Improvement (CRC-EASY). The CRC-EASY supported the execution of this research. The authors also wish to thank the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique for funding support. This article was submitted to the IJPH call for “Environment and Health Reviews” related to the conference “Environment and Health—Bridging South, North, East and West” in Basel, Switzerland 20–23 August 2013 (the joint conference of ISEE, ISES and ISIAQ 2013). All authors have no financial disclosures.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tarik Benmarhnia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lynda Rey
    • 1
  • Yuri Cartier
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Christelle M. Clary
    • 1
    • 5
  • Séverine Deguen
    • 2
    • 6
  • Astrid Brousselle
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Département de médecine sociale et préventiveUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.EHESP School of Public Health, Sorbonne-Paris CitéRennesFrance
  3. 3.Department of Community Health Sciences, Charles LeMoyne Hospital Research CentreUniversity of SherbrookeLongueuilCanada
  4. 4.Canada Research Chair in Evaluation and Health System ImprovementUniversité de SherbrookeLongueuilCanada
  5. 5.CRCHUM, Research CentreCentre Hospitalier de l’Université de MontréalMontrealCanada
  6. 6.INSERM U1085 (IRSET)RennesFrance

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