Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EXHAUSTION (Exposure to heat and air pollution in EUrope – cardiopulmonary impacts and benefits of mitigation and adaptation)
Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2020-11-30
The health effects of extreme heat are interlinked with air pollution in several ways. Air pollution is currently the largest environmental killer in Europe. Previous studies indicate that there may be mutually amplifying effects of extreme heat and air pollution on CPD outcomes. Moreover, extreme heat may increase air pollution levels, which is linked to large-scale (synoptic) meteorological features. Increasing temperatures may also lead to increased increased emissions of air pollutants from anthropogenic and natural sources, including from wildland fires. In an increasingly warming world, episodes of extreme heat and high levels of air pollution are likely to occur simultaneously, could occur more often, last longer, and become more intense – causing increasing health risks.
The vulnerability to environmental stressors such as extreme temperatures and air pollution can differ widely among population groups due to complex causal pathways and differential vulnerability associated with contextual and individual factors. To develop climate change adaptation policies, a detailed understanding of the predominant vulnerability factors in different communities and regions is needed.
The EXHAUSTION project aims to quantify the changes in cardiopulmonary mortality and morbidity due to extreme heat and air pollution (including from wildfires) under selected climate scenarios while including a diverse set of adaptation mechanisms and strategies, calculate the associated costs, and identify effective strategies for minimizing adverse impacts. The results will be disseminated to the general public and key decision- and policy-makers across Europe, providing a tool to increase European resilience towards climate change.
CPD is highly prevalent in Europe and increases with an ageing population. The current cost of CVD and RD in total in EU is estimated at nearly €600 billion. Given the high cost, avoiding an increase in these diseases, or even reducing it, will have a tremendous impact on society through saved healthcare costs and through improved quality-of-life and reduced suffering for very many people. The adaptation strategies identified by EXHAUSTION is expected to help avoid premature death and disease among vulnerable groups, including the elderly, infants, the chronically ill, and individuals with low socio-economic status, and thereby lower the burden of informal caretaking to the benefit of the individual and his/her immediate surroundings. The project is using its scientific publications as a basis for public outreach through popular- science articles, interviews and comments in traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers) and spread through social media. Output from EXHAUSTION will support evidence-based decision-making, and the consortium will continue to engage with policy makers and other stakeholders. Thus, the project’s results are important input to policy making and will have great impact on European policy making. Finally, EXHAUSTION will impact science through the development of innovative research methodologies that link epidemiological research with research to develop adaptation strategies. This enables advanced assessment of the broader societal consequences and costs of climate change and will contribute to state-of-the-art European research.