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Using GIS and Dispersion Modelling Tools to Assess the Effect of the Environment on Health

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A feasibility study in progress to integrate health and air quality information is presented. The methods of using integrated GIS and air quality dispersion modelling tools to assess the effect of the environment on health are discussed. The main aim is to model human personal exposure to air pollutants and compare the predictions to respiratory health data for asthmatics in a health telematics project. The MEDICATE project develops and tests the feasibility of using a health telematic system for asthmatics. Key to this is the determination of the real-time health (lung function) response to the ambient environment. For this, air quality information is related to respiratory measurements by modelling personal exposure through a GIS. The methods of integrating environmental modelling and assessment tools (GIS) in this case are examined. ESRI’s ArcView is used to locate and compile environmental information about the patients’ locations and lifestyles in the study areas (London and Barcelona). A dispersion modelling extension to ArcView, ADMS Urban, is used to interrogate the spatial environmental databases (e.g. emission inventories) to model air pollution concentrations. Patients’ personal exposure is modelled by time-weighted estimates of their exposure to ambient air quality at each defined location. Lung function data can be compared on a time-wise basis with these air quality indicators to see if there is a relationship on an hourly, daily or lagged-day basis. The aim of this paper is to propose a methodology and discuss the integration and practicalities of using air quality assessment tools (inventories, dispersion modelling and a GIS) in assessing the impacts of the environment on human health.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Middlesex University

Publication date: 2000-06-01

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