Mortality due to Vegetation Fire-Originated PM2.5 Exposure in Europe - Assessment for the Years 2005 and 2008
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CitationKollanus Virpi. Prank Marje. Gens Alexandra. Soares Joana. Vira Julius. Kukkonen Jaakko. Sofiev Mikhail. Salonen Raimo O. Lanki Timo. (2017). Mortality due to Vegetation Fire-Originated PM2.5 Exposure in Europe - Assessment for the Years 2005 and 2008. ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES, 125 (1) , 30-37. 10.1289/EHP194.
Background: Vegetation fires can release substantial quantities of fine particles (PM2.5), which are harmful to health. The fire smoke may be transported over long distances and can cause adverse health effects over wide areas.
Objective: We aimed to assess annual mortality attributable to short-term exposures to vegetation fire–originated PM2.5 in different regions of Europe.
Methods: PM2.5 emissions from vegetation fires in Europe in 2005 and 2008 were evaluated based on Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data on fire radiative power. Atmospheric transport of the emissions was modeled using the System for Integrated modeLling of Atmospheric coMposition (SILAM) chemical transport model. Mortality impacts were estimated for 27 European countries based on a) modeled daily PM2.5 concentrations and b) population data, both presented in a 50 × 50 km2 spatial grid; c) an exposure–response function for short-term PM2.5 exposure and daily nonaccidental mortality; and d) country-level data for background mortality risk.
Results: In the 27 countries overall, an estimated 1,483 and 1,080 premature deaths were attributable to the vegetation fire–originated PM2.5 in 2005 and 2008, respectively. Estimated impacts were highest in southern and eastern Europe. However, all countries were affected by fire-originated PM2.5, and even the lower concentrations in western and northern Europe contributed substantially (~ 30%) to the overall estimate of attributable mortality.
Conclusions: Our assessment suggests that air pollution caused by PM2.5 released from vegetation fires is a notable risk factor for public health in Europe. Moreover, the risk can be expected to increase in the future as climate change proceeds. This factor should be taken into consideration when evaluating the overall health and socioeconomic impacts of these fires.