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European Directives for Air Quality: Analysis of the New Limits in Comparison with Asthmatic Symptoms in Children Living in the Oporto Metropolitan Area, Portugal

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This study analyzes the air pollutant concentrations in the Oporto Metropolitan Area, Portugal, comparing them with the limits fixed by the previous legislation currently in force, as well as by European Union (EU) Directives. The impacts were estimated using the prevalence of asthmatic symptoms and asthma in children as indicators. The objectives were: (i) to evaluate the impact on air quality associated with the reduction of sulphur content in fuels, (ii) to compare health impacts associated with SO 2 and particles with the limits fixed by both legislations, and (iii) to assess whether the delayed application of the EU Directives can be associated with health risks. It was concluded that: (i) after the reduction of sulphur content in fuels, a reduction of 60% of the annual averages of SO 2 concentration was observed, as well as a decrease in the rates of asthmatic symptoms and asthma in children, (ii) the limits fixed by the previous legislation do not protect against health impacts of SO 2 and particles, but the new EU Directives are protective; the EU limits for PM 10 are very difficult to attain, being probably unnecessarily low concerning the impact on asthmatic symptoms and asthma in children, and (iii) the delayed application of the EU Directives can be associated with unnecessary health risks.
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Keywords: air pollution; air quality legislation; impact on asthma; particles; sulphur dioxide

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: LEPAE, Departamento de Engenharia Química, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto, Oporto, Portugal 2: Departamento de Pneumologia, Centro Hospitalar de Vila Nova de Gaia, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Publication date: 2005-06-01

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