Journal of Toxiocology and Environmental Health (JTEH)

Health and Air Quality: Interpreting Science for Decision-makers

Over the past 20 years, a vast body of epidemiological literature has provided evidence of strong associations between exposures to ambient levels of particulate matter (PM) found in urban airsheds and a range of serious health effects. Recent research efforts to address uncertainties in results from large-scale cohort mortality studies, to identify population health risk factors, and to characterize the impact of particulate air pollution on life expectancy have important implications for developing policies to protect public health.

This special issue of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A (Volume 66, Numbers 16-19: 1489-1903) in 2003 with Guest Editors Aaron Cohen, Daniel Krewski, Jonathan Samet, and Robert Willes presents the proceedings of The Network for Environmental Risk Assessment and Management (NERAM) Colloquium, “Health and Air Quality 2001: Interpreting Science for Decision Makers”. The Colloquium was the first in a five-year series (2001-2006) spearheaded jointly by the McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment at the University of Ottawa and the Institute for Risk Research at the University of Waterloo to strengthen international linkages between scientific, public health, business, and regulatory communities for improved air quality policy decisions and public health.

This issue focuses on the Health Effects Institute (HEI) Reanalysis Project -  an independent audit and the reanalysis of two U.S. longitudinal cohort studies of the health effects associated with airborne pollutants. The reanalysis of the Harvard Six City prospective cohort study and the American Cancer Society Study (ACS) cohort study, lead by Dr. Daniel Krewski - Director of the McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment,  assured the quality of the original data, replicated the original results, and found that alternative risk models and analytic approaches did not substantively alter the original findings of an association between indicators of particulate matter air pollution and mortality. Among the most important findings of the study was the strong influence of educational attainment on risk and the spatial relationships between mortality and air pollution.  Papers present the results of the data quality audit and examine the influence of ecologic variables on exposure-mortality relationships, the role of ecologic confounding and occupational confounding, and the impact of scale of analysis on exposure-mortality relationships. The volume discusses design issues in cohort studies of air pollution and health and examines novel research designs, exposure metrics and spatial analysis methods. Issues and uncertainties in health benefits assessment associated with long-term exposure reductions are also examined.

To provide an international regulatory context, the special issue includes air quality management perspectives from Canada, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Priority areas of research to guide improved air quality policy development are identified. The Colloquium delegates conclude that “to devise optimal, cost-effective strategies for controlling particulate air pollution, regulators need a better understanding of the composition of the mixture, the sources of the various components, the effects on health of the various components and benefits likely to accrue from their reductions, and the costs of reducing the various components”. To make scientific advancements in these areas, there is a need for integrated research across a broad range of disciplines including epidemiology, toxicology, risk analysis, risk communication, social sciences, economic analysis, and policy evaluation.

Cohen, A., Krewski, D., Samet, J., and Willes, R. Guest Editors. 2003. Health and Air Quality: Interpreting Science for Decision Makers. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A Volume 66: 1489-1903.

Published twenty-four times per year, the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A features strictly refereed original research in the field of environmental toxicology in general as well as in special interest fields such as target organ toxicities, immunotoxicology, risk assessment, carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, ecotoxicology, environmental factors affecting health, and aquatic toxicology.

Subscription information for the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A or a sample copy can be obtained from the address below.  To view the special issue (Vol. 66, Number 16-19), go to

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