Reducing the incidence and prevalence of modifiable risk factors of noncommunicable diseases is a critical endeavor to tackle the global burden of these ailments that claim several millions lives per year globally, and thus to foster effective initiatives of primary and secondary prevention. Air pollution is one of the most important modifiable risk factors, owing to ubiquitous environmental and household exposure in low-income and high-income countries. With this background, in collaboration with the Environmental Research Group (ERG) of the Imperial College in London, UK, we organize for the fifth time the independent International Seminar RespiraMi, and summon in the Italian city of Milan (IT) an impressive faculty of experts to present the most recent data stemming from research completed in the last few years and to bring up to date present knowledge of the achieved progress.
In the first session, “New evidence supporting air pollution risk assessment”, speakers from European countries and the World Health organization critically analyze recent systematic reviews on the relation of morbidity and mortality to air pollution. Of particular interest and relevance is the report that, at the end of this opening session, evaluates the economic consequences of the impacts of air pollution on health.
The next four sessions of the first day of the Seminar update the current scientific evidence on the relation to air pollution exposure of four frequent noncommunicable diseases: cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, tumors as well as neurological and mental disease. The last session of the day is an innovative and until now poorly attempted effort to stimulate a cross-talk between medical specialists and general
practitioners with epidemiologists to understand the relevance for clinical practice of the accumulated evidence on the adverse effects of air pollution, and the role of clinicians in using this evidence with their patients. Equally important and cogent are the scientific sessions of the conference’s second day.
The poster presentation session deals with the update of research conducted on air pollution in Italy, a country characterized by a high degree of exposure, particularly but not exclusively in the northern region of the river Po valley. The next session evaluates the issues and recent progress in the assessment of the degree of exposure to air pollution, by using not only the traditional models of epidemiology but also
other equally effective and perhaps less costly approaches. The last session reports the policy and actions planned for the European Union and the UK to reduce the health risks of air pollution. The Seminar ends with a discussion and related reporting on which further evidence is warranted in order to support actions designed to reduce the health risks of air pollution in Europe and elsewhere.
The audience of the seminar will include scientists involved in the research on health effects of air pollution, public health specialists, experts on air quality assessment and management as well as representatives of organizations involved in actions designed to reduce health impacts of air pollution. The multidisciplinary discussion will serve both for better communication of the scientific knowledge to the wide public and identification of further questions to be addressed by research in order to improve prevention of the adverse impacts of air pollution on health.
Sergio A. Harari
Pier Mannuccio Mannucci