Monitoring ambient air quality for health impact assessment

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

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Doc #: 9 Title: Monitoring ambient air quality for health impact assessment | Document Link
Organization/Author: WHO
Year: 1999
Region: International
Observation Type:
Observation Needs:
Document Status: Unsubmitted, 2009/08/31

Description of Document: WHO; What are the features of monitoring networks that are needed to identify exposure.

Designing and planning a monitoring system

  • Existing air monitoring systems often do not fully address the evaluation

of population exposure to toxic air pollutants and the assessment of the resulting health effects.

  • The design of new monitoring programmes or refinement of existing

systems should therefore consider the need to use the data measured for the purpose of assessing the effects on population health.

  • The pollutants studied, measurement time scales and locations

should be relevant to assessing human exposure and the expected health effects. Local conditions and pollution climates will determine the pollutants and methods to be given priority.

  • Monitoring can have many objectives besides health impact assessment.

These objectives, together with resulting data quality objectives, need to be clearly defined when monitoring systems are designed or updated.

  • Monitoring is only one of a range of tools for assessing air quality;

monitoring, emission inventories and predictive models are complementary components in an integrated approach to assessing exposure and health effects.

Quality assurance and control

  • Comprehensive quality assurance and control of monitoring programmes

is essential to ensure that measurements are accurate, reliable and fit for the intended purpose.

  • Harmonization of measurement quality – at both a national and

international level – should be promoted through national quality assurance and control coordination, laboratory accreditation and international validation programmes.

Managing and disseminating information

  • Raw measured data are of limited utility; these need to be transformed

by appropriate analysis and interpretation into useful information, targeted at the needs of a wide community of end-users. These activities require special expertise, infrastructure and funding.

  • Possible end-users may include scientific and health communities,

policy and planning decision-makers at the local or national level, the mass media and the general public.

  • Data and information from monitoring programmes should be communicated

to users in the scientific and health communities in a form and time frame appropriate to their specific needs.

  • Every person has the right to know about the quality of the air he or

she breathes. Disseminating information on air quality to the public serves to inform, educate and raise awareness of important environmental and health issues.

  • An informed and aware public can also contribute and assist in a

meaningful way to improving the environment. Public communication and education schemes are therefore recommended.

  • Free international exchange and dissemination of air quality information

is recommended, using such freely and openly available communication media as the World Wide Web.

The report discuses numerous technical issues. The following points are addressed primarily to network managers and public health scientists who use air quality data.