The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published a report, Personal Interventions and Risk Communication on Air Pollution, from a 2019 expert consultation to review and assess scientific evidence on measures to reduce personal exposure to air pollution. The consultation sought consensus on how to communicate potential risks related to air pollution to various audiences, including the public, healthcare professionals, and patients, and on offering means of reducing exposure by personal interventions.
Director of Air Quality, Kevin Cromar, participated in the consultation and co-authored the report, which stemmed from his work co-chairing a previous workshop. He led development of the section for risk communication using air-pollution indices, which determined that:
- However an index is designed, values must be associated with health risks of the local population.
- Indices that are predictive of population-level health risks may not need modification, even if not health-based; indices that aren’t predictive, however, should also inform people about modifying their behavior on bad-air days, according to their sensitivity to pollution.
- Respiratory morbidity is the health outcome most likely to benefit from individual behavior modification based on a well-designed, effectively communicated air-quality index. Health-based indices based on mortality risks could be calibrated to best represent morbidity.