Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

The public health context for PM2.5 and ozone air quality trends

  • Neal FannEmail author
  • David Risley


Tropospheric ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM2.5) are associated with adverse health effects, including premature mortality. Regulation of these pollutants by the US Environmental Protection Agency has resulted in significant improvements in air quality over the last decade, as demonstrated by a national network of air quality monitors. However, ambient trends provide limited information regarding either the change in population exposure to these pollutants or how fluctuations in the levels of these pollutants might affect public health. We leverage the spatially and temporally extensive monitoring network in the US to estimate the improvements to public health associated with monitored air quality changes over a 7-year period. We estimate the impacts of monitored changes in ozone and PM2.5 on premature mortality using health impact functions based on short-term relative risk estimates for O3 and long-term relative risk estimates for PM2.5. We spatially interpolate the O3 and PM2.5 data and utilize ozone air quality data that are adjusted for meteorological variability. We estimate that reductions in monitored PM2.5 and ozone from 2000 to 2007 are associated with 22,000–60,000 PM2.5 and 880–4,100 ozone net avoided premature mortalities. The change in estimated premature mortality can be highly variable from 1 year to the next, sometimes by thousands of deaths. The estimate of avoided ozone-related mortalities is sensitive to the use of meteorologically-adjusted air quality inputs. Certain locations, including Los Angeles and Houston see an opposing trend between mortality impacts attributable to ozone and PM2.5.We find that improving air quality over the past 7 years has reduced premature mortality significantly.


Air quality trends Ozone PM2.5 Health impacts 



This paper has not been subjected to EPA peer and administrative review; therefore, the conclusions and opinions contained herein are solely those of the authors, and should not be construed to reflect the views of the EPA. The authors thank V. Rao, B. Cox, and E. Baldridge for providing technical guidance regarding the air quality inputs to this analysis. We thank S. Anenberg for providing valuable editorial support.

Supplementary material

11869_2010_125_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1 mb)
(DOC 1,047 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Risk and Benefits GroupUS Environmental Protection AgencyDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Office of Atmospheric Programs, Clean Markets DivisionUS Environmental Protection AgencyWashington, DCUSA

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