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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Interventions: Accountability Annemoon van Erp Senior Scientist, Health Effects Institute NERAM V Conference, October 16-18 2006 Why accountability? Air quality has improved substantially over the past decades

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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Interventions:Accountability

Annemoon van Erp

Senior Scientist, Health Effects Institute

NERAM V Conference, October 16-18 2006


Why accountability?

Air quality has improved substantially over the past decades

Need to ensure that regulations are achieving the intended public health benefits

Measuring indicators along entire chain from regulatory action  emissions  air quality  exposure  human health




Focusing the challenge on health:

The Chain of Accountability




Atmospheric transport,

chemical transformation,

and deposition

Ambient air quality

Human time-activity in relation to indoor and outdoor air quality;Uptake, deposition, clearance, retention



Susceptibility factors;

mechanisms of damage

and repair, health outcomes

Human health


Concept of accountability research

Evaluating concurrent changes that affect exposure and health effects. This relates especially to regulations implemented over long time periods

Participation of experts from broad range of disciplines

History of HEI’s accountability program :

  • initiated in Strategic Plan for 2000–2005
  • published accountability monograph in 2003 to discuss concepts and methods (HEI Communication 11)
  • issued four RFAs between 2002 and 2004
  • HEI now has 6 ongoing studies, 1 study completed (report under review), and 1 under negotiation

HEI accountability studies

Short-term interventions

  • Traffic reduction
    • during Atlanta Olympic Games (Jennifer Peel)
    • congestion charging scheme in London (Frank Kelly)
    • low-emission zone in London (Frank Kelly)
  • Replacing old wood stoves with less polluting stoves in Montana (Curtis Noonan)
  • Coal ban in Irish cities (Douglas Dockery)

HEI accountability studies (2)

Actions and events over longer term

  • Changes in eastern Germany after the reunification, such as switching from brown coal to natural gas and increased use of diesel engines (Annette Peters) (completed and under review)
  • Regulations requiring decreased SO2 emissions from powers plants in eastern US (Richard Morgenstern)
congestion charging scheme london
Congestion charging scheme (London)
  • PI: Frank Kelly, King’s College, London
  • implemented in February 2003 to reduce traffic congestion in London’s inner city (charge £5, now £8)
  • concomitant increase in public transportation
  • show that traffic reduction  pollution reduction
  • oxidative properties of PM collected on filters before and after implementation
  • if pollution reduction evident, follow up with health study :
    • (1) death & hospital admissions(2) respiratory and cardiovascular conditions in children and elderly obtained from primary care records
low emission zone london
Low-emission zone (London)
  • PI: Frank Kelly, King’s College London
  • reduce pollution levels by excluding high emitters, starting in spring 2008
  • affects much larger area (greater London)
  • prospective study: baseline assessment
    • pollution levels
    • collect filters for oxidative properties
    • access to primary care data
  • improved monitoring network before start
  • post-intervention study to be decided
decreased so 2 emissions from power plants eastern us
Decreased SO2 emissions from power plants (eastern US)
  • PI: Richard Morgenstern, Resources for the Future
  • reduction of SO2 emissions from power plants under Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments
  • source-by-source analysis to determine where and when reductions occurred
  • source-receptor matrices to establish relationship between emissions reduction and improvement in air quality
  • study on health effects to be finalized
morgenstern so 2 emissions cont d
Morgenstern: SO2 emissions (cont’d)

Data collection (1999-2005 time frame):

  • SO2 and NOx emissions from EPA’s National Emissions Inventory (point, area, and mobile sources)
  • air quality and weather data from EPA’s Air Quality System (SO2, SO4, PM10, PM2.5 [speciated]) and NOAA’s National Climate Data Center
  • health and demographic data from US Census and National Center for Health Statistics

Source-by-source analysis:

  • determine whether emissions reductions (SO2, NOx, PM2.5) are due to Title IV or other policies or changes in economic activity
morgenstern so 2 emissions cont d11
Morgenstern: SO2 emissions (cont’d)

Statistical models linking emissions and air quality:

  • econometric model with adjustment for wind direction between source and receptor
  • weather-mediated source-receptor matrix based on a large-scale regional atmospheric model
  • validate each model against observed data
  • compare both models as to how they predict air quality (PM10, PM2.5, and SO4)
  • estimate what pollutant concentrations would have been in the absence of this policy; compare to observed concentrations
morgenstern so 2 emissions cont d12
Morgenstern: SO2 emissions (cont’d)

Estimating health effects:

  • focus on PM10, PM2.5, SO4 reductions in 2005 attributed to reduced SO2 emissions from power plants
  • use concentration-response functions from existing epidemiologic studies
  • focus on mortality and respiratory-related hospital admissions for the elderly, possibly other health outcomes
  • estimate whether adverse health effects were avoided by the air quality improvement
what s ahead
What’s ahead:
  • One study under negotiation : effects on mortality of reducing fuel sulfur content in Hong Kong
  • HEI is preparing a Program Summary describing the accountability research program
  • Work with CDC EPHT Branch, US EPA and States to apply newly developed environmental public health tracking methods to accountability
  • Pursue new research and methods development on long-term and short-term impacts of domestic air quality actions on public health
thank you
Thank you!

To find out more about HEI’s research program or to download the Accountability Monograph (HEI Communication 11) visit our website