Last week, an assessment by a group of just over 100 lung physicians reopened a discussion on the health benefits of the current air quality standards. Under the leadership of the lung physician Dieter Köhler, the group claims that there is there is no scientific ground for these standards and that these pollutants do not affect health in Germany. They also claim that existing publications were biased and misinterpreted.
The International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) and the Environment and Health Committee of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) now responded with a statement which strongly reject the allegation. "The limits recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are based on the entire scientific evidence now available about the effects of air pollution on health," says Nino Künzli, Deputy Director of Swiss TPH. "This experimental and epidemiological research is reflected in over 70,000 scientific papers."
Swiss TPH has significantly contributed to the statement by ISEE and ERS and has decades of experience in researching the exposure, the health effects, and the public health impact of ambient air pollution. For example, Swiss TPH leads the SAPALDIA study, which has been monitoring the impact of the environment on the health of around 10,000 people in Switzerland for 29 years.
"The chronic effects on human health can only be proven by appropriate long-term studies," says Nicole Probst-Hensch, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health and project leader of the SAPALDIA study. "We have sufficient epidemiological evidence that air pollution leads to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as cancer. Swiss TPH is therefore standing up for clean air not only in Western Europe but also in major cities of low- and middle-income countries."
The debate on air quality standards for ambient air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and ozone has revived in Germany last week. The International Society for Environmental Epidemiology and the Environment and Health Committee of the European Respiratory Society have now issued a statement on the debate of the effects of air pollution on health. Swiss TPH has been conducting research in this field for decades and has contributed significantly to the statement.