Current Environmental Health Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 514–522 | Cite as

Accountability Studies on Air Pollution and Health: the HEI Experience

  • Hanna Boogaard
  • Annemoon M. van Erp
  • Katherine D. Walker
  • Rashid Shaikh
Air Pollution and Health (S Adar and B Hoffmann, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Air Pollution and Health


Purpose of Review

Assessing health effects of air quality interventions is of ever-increasing interest. Given the prominent role Health Effects Institute (HEI) has played in accountability research, this review focuses on HEI’s recent experiences, the challenges it has encountered, and provides possible directions for future research.

Recent Findings

Most accountability studies to date have focused on effects of relatively short-term, local-scale, and sometimes temporary interventions. Only a few recent accountability studies have sought to investigate large-scale, multiyear regulatory programs. Common challenges encountered include lack of statistical power, how to account appropriately for background trends in air quality and health, and difficulties in direct attribution of changes in air pollution and health to a single intervention among many regulatory actions. New methods have been developed for accountability research that has shown promise addressing some of those challenges, including use of causal inference methods.


These and other approaches that would enhance the attribution of changes in air quality and health directly to an intervention should continue to be further explored. In addition, integration of social and behavioral sciences in accountability research is warranted, and climate related co-benefits and dis-benefits may be considered.


Accountability Air pollution Health Regulations Actions Interventions 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Hanna Boogaard, Annemoon M. van Erp, Katherine D. Walker, and Rashid Shaikh declare that they have no conflict of interest. The authors are employed by the Health Effects Institute, an independent non-profit organization supported by the US Environmental Protection Agency and world-wide automotive manufacturers. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Health Effects Institute or its sponsors.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanna Boogaard
    • 1
  • Annemoon M. van Erp
    • 1
  • Katherine D. Walker
    • 1
  • Rashid Shaikh
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Effects InstituteBostonUSA

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