Human exposure to outdoor air pollution is believed to cause severe health effects, especially in urban areas where pollution levels often are high, because of the poor dispersion conditions and high density of pollution sources. Many factors influence human health, and a good assessment of human air pollution exposure is, therefore, crucial for a proper determination of possible links between air pollution and health effects. Assessment of human exposure is, however, not straightforward, and this is the background for the present paper, which recommends how to carry out such assessments. Assessment of human exposure to air pollution may be carried out by use of:
application of biomarkers,
analysis of air pollution data from routine monitoring networks,
personal portable exposure monitors, or
application of mathematical air pollution exposure models.
The categorical classification is a crude indirect method based on indicators of exposure such as type of residence, type of job, presence of indoor sources, etc. Categorical classification is generally inadequate for application in air pollution epidemiology. Biomarkers can be a strong instrument in assessment of health effects and provide information about air pollution exposure and dose. Use of biomarkers is, therefore, particularly useful when applied in combination with exposure assessment through one of the methods 3 to 5. The main focus of this paper is on these three methods for determination of human air pollution exposure. The optimal solution is clearly a combination of methods 2 to 5, but the available resources often set a limit to how far the assessment is carried out, and the choice of strategy will, therefore, often be very important for the outcome of the final study. This paper describes how these approaches may be applied and outlines advantages and disadvantages of the approaches used individually and in combination. Furthermore, some examples of specific applications in Denmark and the Netherlands are given for illustration.
© 2013 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston