Air constituents

Research description

Health-relevant influences of air constituents and meteorological conditions

Project starts: August 2019
Project ends: August 2021
Duration: 2 years
Project Management Agency: Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - Project number 408057478
Project responsibility on site: Stephanie Koller, Prof. Dr. Elke Hertig

 

It is by now an established fact that heatwaves characteristics have negative implications for human health. For example, exceptionally intense and longer lasting durations of such heatwaves can significantly increase the vulnerability of certain risk groups towards intensification of existing diseases and even mortality. (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pneumologie und Beatmungsmedizin 2018). Often in conjunction with such heat-spells are the low-exchange conditions that lead to a large increase in concentration of certain air constituents or are involved in their secondary formation (for instance ozone) (Kuttler 2009). Many of these air constituents have harmful effects on the human organism, in large quantities (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pneumologie und Beatmungsmedizin 2018).
With this brief background, the aim of this project is to investigate the actual hazard potential of health-relevant air-hygiene and their association with selected climatological parameters. This will be accomplished by analyzing and quantifying the effects of such increased air constituents and temperature extremes on human health within a statistical downscaling framework. The University Hospital Augsburg emergency data logs will provide the required public health data for this purpose. In addition to the diagnosis, additional information such as age, gender, place of residence and pre-existing conditions of the patients will further be used for meaningful statistical inferences.
Within this study, the focus will be on ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter with relevant atmospheric levels. The selection of these specific air constituents are of major public health related implications across Germany. (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pneumologie und Beatmungsmedizin 2018). In the meteorological framework, the focus is primarily on extreme temperatures, which not only cause direct negative impact on human health but, also leads to changes in other atmospheric constituents, for instance ozone. (Vogel et al., 2000). In addition, a large number of other meteorological parameters such as precipitation, relative humidity and wind speed as well as the synoptic circulations also play a major role in in changing magnitude and forms of such toxic air particulates through formation and decomposition processes as well as in distribution of these pollutants (Helbig, Baumüller, Kerschgens 2013).
With the help of this data, the first major question can be answered: Are air-health and meteorological stress situations are shown in the emergency room data? Further in-depth questions are:

  • How these pollutants are mutually and exclusively correlated with other atmospheric features on different spatial-temporal scales?
  • What derives such atmospheric changes and how can their impinging risks for human health be ranked?
  • What is the most common environmental disease?
  • Characterize weather conditions based upon human risk
  • How changing climate will influence such outbreaks?

Ideally, the analysis may also provide a short-term forecast from which to derive, based on weather observations, whether or not there will be more likely to be certain conditions in the emergency room.

 

This PhD study is being funded by the German Federal Foundation for Environment (DBU) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) - project number 408057478.

 

Literatur/Literature
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pneumologie und Beatmungsmedizin [Hrsg.] (2018): Atmen: Luftschadstoffe und Gesundheit. Berlin.
Helbig A., Baumüller J., Kerschgens M. [Hrsg.] (2013): Stadtklima und Luftreinhaltung. 2. Aufl. Berlin.
Kuttler W. (2009): Zum Klima im urbanen Raum. Klimastatusbericht 2008. Deutscher Wetterdienst (Hrsg.), Offenbach, 6 -12.
Vogel H., Memmesheimer M., Reimer E., Winkler P., Fiedler F. (2000): Typischer zeitlicher Verlauf von Photosmog-Episoden. In: promet, 2000, 26(3/4): 112-120. Photosmog I. Frankfurt am Main.

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