REVIEW – June 2007

Air pollution in towns and its impact on the health of population


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As a consequence of emission from industries, traffic and local heating, the quality of urban air has deteriorated. Research is carried out regarding health effects and mortality during short-term high concentration or long-term moderate concentration of air pollution to accurately define threat to human vitality. Due to complexity of air pollution, even a large number of studies can not explain the entire formation of health effects. Epidemiological studies have shown that the biological effects of air pollutants are mostly associated with respiratory  and cardiovascular diseases. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) affects human health through the lung alveoli. The hypothesis of negative health effects triggered by oxidative properties has been supported with evidence. As the number of vehicles has risen expeditiously, air pollution is a problem in all bigger Estonian towns. Currently the limit values in central part of Tallinn are exceeded many times a year. According to more strict limit values that will come into effect in 2010, the level of air pollution is too high also in residential areas.