Impacts of intercontinental transport of anthropogenic fine particulate matter on human mortality

Susan C. Anenberg, J. Jason West, Hongbin Yu, Mian Chin, Michael Schulz, Dan Bergmann, Isabelle Bey, Huisheng Bian, Thomas Diehl, Arlene Fiore, Peter Hess, Elina Marmer, Veronica Montanaro, Rokjin Park, Drew Shindell, Toshihiko Takemura, Frank Dentener

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    62 Citations (Scopus)


    Fine particulate matter with diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5) is associated with premature mortality and can travel long distances, impacting air quality and health on intercontinental scales. We estimate the mortality impacts of 20 % anthropogenic primary PM2.5 and PM2.5 precursor emission reductions in each of four major industrial regions (North America, Europe, East Asia, and South Asia) using an ensemble of global chemical transport model simulations coordinated by the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution and epidemiologically-derived concentration-response functions. We estimate that while 93–97 % of avoided deaths from reducing emissions in all four regions occur within the source region, 3–7 % (11,500; 95 % confidence interval, 8,800–14,200) occur outside the source region from concentrations transported between continents. Approximately 17 and 13 % of global deaths avoided by reducing North America and Europe emissions occur extraregionally, owing to large downwind populations, compared with 4 and 2 % for South and East Asia. The coarse resolution global models used here may underestimate intraregional health benefits occurring on local scales, affecting these relative contributions of extraregional versus intraregional health benefits. Compared with a previous study of 20 % ozone precursor emission reductions, we find that despite greater transport efficiency for ozone, absolute mortality impacts of intercontinental PM2.5 transport are comparable or greater for neighboring source-receptor pairs, due to the stronger effect of PM2.5 on mortality. However, uncertainties in modeling and concentration-response relationships are large for both estimates.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)369-379
    Number of pages11
    JournalAir Quality, Atmosphere and Health
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2014

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Pollution
    • Atmospheric Science
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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