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Mapping air pollutants at municipality level in Italy and Spain in support to health impact evaluations


A growing health concern, due to poor air quality, recently led to an increased number of studies regarding air pollution effects on public health. Consequently, close attention is paid to estimation methods of exposure to atmospheric pollutants. This paper aims to meet a specific requirement of epidemiological researchers, that is providing annual air pollution maps at municipality scale for health impact assessment purposes on national basis. Firstly, data fusion through kriging with external drift is implemented, combining pollution data from two different sources, models and measurements, in order to improve the spatial distribution of surface concentrations at grid level. Then, the assimilated data of air pollution are upscaled, so as to obtain concentrations at municipality level. This methodology was applied to Italy and Spain (in Spain, only the second step was carried out since the modeled concentration already included an assimilation procedure). In both countries, for each municipality, an estimate of the concentration value for atmospheric pollutants of major concern for human health (PM10 and NO2) was provided, offering more relevant information from a surveillance point of view.

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  1. The national system:

  2. The European air quality database:



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The research described in this article was conducted under the grant agreement European Commission, Environment LIFE12 ENV/IT/000834. The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.

The authors wish to thank Nino Küenzli from Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Xavier Querol from Institute for Environmental. Assessment and Water Research IDAEA-CSIC (Spanish Research Council) for their assistance during the project and their valuable suggestions.

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Correspondence to Stefania Ghigo.

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Members of the LIFE MED HISS Study group: Italy: S. Bande, G. Berti, G. Briganti, E. Cadum, A. Cappelletti, P. Carná, L. Ciancarella, G. Cremona, M. Clemente, G. Costa, M. Demaria, R. De Maria, E. Ferracin, M. Gandini, S. Ghigo, R. Gnavi, M. Grosa, M. Mircea, R. Onorati, A. Piersanti, G. Righini, M. Rowinski, C. Scarinzi, T. Spadea, G. Zanini; France: N. Baïz, S. Banerjee, JF. Bertholon, A. Fouad, C. Maesano, AM. Magnier, S. Launois, I. Annesi-Maesano, A. Moustafa, S. Sanyal; Slovenia: K. Bitenc, I. Erzen, T. Grc̆a, A. Kukec, P. Otorepec, M. Rus, L. Zaletel-Krageli; Spain: D. Agis, G. Arévalo, J. M Baldasano, J. Barrera-Gómez, X. Basagaña, J. Benach, È. Martinez-Solanas.

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Ghigo, S., Bande, S., Ciancarella, L. et al. Mapping air pollutants at municipality level in Italy and Spain in support to health impact evaluations. Air Qual Atmos Health 11, 69–82 (2018).

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  • Data fusion
  • Atmospheric pollution
  • CTM models
  • Health impact assessment
  • Upscaling