Research and analysis

COMEAP: long-term exposure to air pollution and chronic bronchitis

A report by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP).

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This report presents an assessment of the evidence on long-term exposure to ambient air pollutants and chronic bronchitis and respiratory symptoms. The work was undertaken by COMEAP’s subgroup on the Quantification of Air Pollution Risks (QUARK), and the full report has been endorsed by the Committee.

The Committee found some evidence of an association between chronic bronchitis and long-term exposure to air pollution (mainly particulate air pollution). However, the overall body of evidence is inconsistent and is not sufficient to imply a causal relationship. The Committee, therefore, does not recommend quantifying the relationship between long-term exposure to air pollution and chronic bronchitis in core health impact assessments.

In its report, COMEAP recommends that only sensitivity (‘what if’) calculations should be undertaken to assess what might be the size of the potential effect of long-term exposure to particulate air pollution on symptoms of chronic bronchitis in the UK if a causal relationship is assumed. COMEAP undertook sensitivity calculations to illustrate the possible effect, and the report describes the method and assumptions made in producing the estimates.