Air Pollution - An Invisible Killer

Air pollution causes almost 4 million deaths annually. This burden is larger than the one of the deadliest infectious disease. Swiss TPH belongs to the leading research institutions in the field of air pollution and health. Experts monitor air quality and employ spatial and temporal modelling methods to estimate exposure to pollutants and its impact on public health. Their broad range of activities contributes to 1) establishing the evidence of adverse effects of pollution through innovative research, 2) assess the related public health risks and impact and 3) communicate and discuss the findings with policy makers and public agencies to foster policies in favour of public health and well-being.

Teaching and training in air pollution exposure, epidemiology, risk assessment and policy making at the University of Basel, the Swiss School of Public Health, the University of Geneva, the ETH Zurich, and a range of international institutions are part of Swiss TPH's capacity building contribution.

WHO Air Quality Guidelines 2021

Air Pollution is a Public Health Problem

The Benefits of Clean Air Action

Air Pollution and COVID-19

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Temitope Adebayo, SSPH+ Science Flashtalk, March 2020

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Prof. Nino Künzli, Swiss TPH on behalf of the 1st International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, 7 September 2020

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Prof. Nino Künzli, Swiss TPH, at the 29th SSPH+ Lugano Summer School, 24-29 August 2020

Wissenschaftlich belegt: Luftverschmutzung schadet der Gesundheit

Health Effects

Reflections before Retiring from Nino Künzli

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Prof. Nicole Probst-Hensch, Head of Epidemiology and Public Health Department at Swiss TPH

Graphical overview of causal and likely causal health effects of air pollution. 

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Prof. Nino Künzli and colleagues at the Swiss Public Health Conference, 14 September 2022

The AIRBASE network measures ultra-low particles such as PM2.5
People's mobility needs to be taken into account in exposure assessments.
Vietnam's air quality is among the worst in the world.

Effects of Low-Level Air Pollution in Europe

Swiss TPH is part of the larger ELAPSE study (Effects of Low-Level Air Pollution: A Study in Europe) that scrutinises the health effects of low air pollution levels within selected cohorts of the ESCAPE study. Individual data is analysed from six very large European administrative cohorts (> 25 million subjects). The relationship between long-term exposure to low-level air pollution and three broad health effect categories will be investigated: (a) natural and cause-specific mortality, (b) coronary and cerebrovascular events, and (c) lung cancer incidence.

MOBI-AIR: Accounting for MOBility in AIR pollution exposure estimates in studies on long-term health effects

Large scale epidemiological studies investigating long-term health effects of air pollution can typically only consider the residential locations of the participants, thereby ignoring the space-time activity patterns that likely influence total exposure. People are mobile and can be exposed to considerably different levels of air pollution or air pollution mixtures when inside vs. outside, commuting, recreating, or working. The main aim of this study is to assess whether more sophisticated estimates of individual exposure, considering population mobility, decreases the bias in health studies. Further information

Air Pollution and Pneumonia in Vietnam

Vietnam’s air quality is among the worst in the world. Experts estimate the short-term health effects of air pollution and its relevance in the capital city Hanoi with a focus on hospital admissions due to respiratory diseases in children. They scrutinise the association between the daily levels of air pollutants and hospital admission of children due to pneumonia. Moreover, the number of nights the children stay hospitalised due to respiratory infections is assessed.

Link to Project

A Unique Platform on Air Pollution Research

Swiss TPH built up and manages LUDOK,  a unique documentation platform on air pollution research in Switzerland. The database summarises over 8000 scientific publications. Thanks to LUDOK, the impact of several air pollutants on people’s health can be assessed. It serves as a basis for scientifically sound environmental policies ­­– in Switzerland and beyond.

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Selected projects at this location:

Accordini S et al. Incidence trends of airflow obstruction among European adults without asthma: a 20-year cohort study. Sci Rep. 2020;10:3452. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-60478-5

Agrawala S et al. Call for comments: climate and clean air responses to covid-19. Int J Public Health. 2020;65:525-528. DOI: 10.1007/s00038-020-01394-3

Eze I.C et al. Genome-wide DNA methylation in peripheral blood and long-term exposure to source-specific transportation noise and air pollution: the SAPALDIA study. Environ Health Perspect. 2020;128(6):67003. DOI: 10.1289/EHP6174

Nhung N.T.T et al. Exposure to air pollution and risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular diseases amongst Vietnamese adults: case-crossover study. Sci Total Environ. 2020;703:134637. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134637

Amini H et al. Short-term associations between daily mortality and ambient particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and the air quality index in a Middle Eastern megacity. Environ Pollut. 2019;254(Pt B):113121. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113121

Doiron D et al. Air pollution, lung function and COPD: results from the population-based UK Biobank study. Eur Respir J. 2019;54(1):1802140. DOI: 10.1183/13993003.02140-2018