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Can air pollution negate the health benefits of cycling and walking?

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Title: Can air pollution negate the health benefits of cycling and walking?
Authors: Tainio, M
De Nazelle, AJ
Götschi, T
Kahlmeier, S
Rojas-Rueda, D
Nieuwenhuijsen, MJ
De Sá, TH
Kelly, P
Woodcock, J
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Active travel (cycling, walking) is beneficial for the health due to increased physical activity (PA). However, active travel may increase the intake of air pollution, leading to negative health consequences. We examined the risk–benefit balance between active travel related PA and exposure to air pollution across a range of air pollution and PA scenarios. The health effects of active travel and air pollution were estimated through changes in all-cause mortality for different levels of active travel and air pollution. Air pollution exposure was estimated through changes in background concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ranging from 5 to 200 μg/m3. For active travel exposure, we estimated cycling and walking from 0 up to 16 h per day, respectively. These refer to long-term average levels of active travel and PM2.5 exposure. For the global average urban background PM2.5 concentration (22 μg/m3) benefits of PA by far outweigh risks from air pollution even under the most extreme levels of active travel. In areas with PM2.5 concentrations of 100 μg/m3, harms would exceed benefits after 1 h 30 min of cycling per day or more than 10 h of walking per day. If the counterfactual was driving, rather than staying at home, the benefits of PA would exceed harms from air pollution up to 3 h 30 min of cycling per day. The results were sensitive to dose–response function (DRF) assumptions for PM2.5 and PA. PA benefits of active travel outweighed the harm caused by air pollution in all but the most extreme air pollution concentrations.
Issue Date: 1-Jun-2016
Date of Acceptance: 1-Feb-2016
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/32741
DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.02.002
ISSN: 1096-0260
Publisher: Elsevier
Start Page: 233
End Page: 236
Journal / Book Title: Preventive Medicine
Volume: 87
Issue: 1
Copyright Statement: © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Sponsor/Funder: Medical Research Council (MRC)
Funder's Grant Number: MR/L01341X/1
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Medicine, General & Internal
General & Internal Medicine
Physical activity
Air pollution
Bicycling
Walking
Mortality
Health Impact Assessment
Risk-Benefit Assessment
PHYSICAL-ACTIVITY
MORTALITY
Air pollution
Bicycling
Health Impact Assessment
Mortality
Physical activity
Risk–Benefit Assessment
Walking
Air Pollution
Bicycling
Environmental Exposure
Exercise
Humans
Particulate Matter
Risk Assessment
Walking
Humans
Exercise
Walking
Risk Assessment
Air Pollution
Environmental Exposure
Bicycling
Particulate Matter
Public Health
1106 Human Movement and Sports Sciences
1117 Public Health and Health Services
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2016-05-05
Appears in Collections:Centre for Environmental Policy
Faculty of Natural Sciences