Better air quality indicators are needed for the world's cities

August 28, 2012

In their August editorial, the PLOS Medicine Editors reflect on a recent Policy Forum article by Jason Corburn and Alison Cohen, which describes the need for urban health equity indicators to guide public health policy in cities and urban areas.

The Editors focus on the need for better air quality data for the world's cities because many cities with the worst airborne particulate levels are in low- and middle-income countries and often have limited data. Worryingly, the estimates that 1.34 million premature deaths were at attributable to outdoor air pollution in 2008.

The Editors note that, "for [air quality] indicators to be effective they must be context-specific and relevant, and be made available transparently so that they can be open to interpretation and re-evaluation."

Explore further: Bad air pervades in half of Chinese cities

More information: Corburn J, Cohen AK (2012) Why We Need Urban Health Equity Indicators: Integrating Science, Policy, and Community. PLoS Med 9(8): e1001285. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001285

The PLOS Medicine Editors (2012) The Air That We Breathe: Addressing the Risks of Global Urbanization on Health. PLoS Med 9(8): e1001301. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001301

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