Characterizing the impact of projected changes in climate and air quality on human exposures to ozone

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Abstract

The impact of climate change on human and environmental health is of critical concern. Population exposures to air pollutants both indoors and outdoors are influenced by a wide range of air quality, meteorological, behavioral, and housing-related factors, many of which are also impacted by climate change. An integrated methodology for modeling changes in human exposures to tropospheric ozone (O3) owing to potential future changes in climate and demographics was implemented by linking existing modeling tools for climate, weather, air quality, population distribution, and human exposure. Human exposure results from the Air Pollutants Exposure Model (APEX) for 12 US cities show differences in daily maximum 8-h (DM8H) exposure patterns and levels by sex, age, and city for all scenarios. When climate is held constant and population demographics are varied, minimal difference in O3 exposures is predicted even with the most extreme demographic change scenario. In contrast, when population is held constant, we see evidence of substantial changes in O3 exposure for the most extreme change in climate. Similarly, we see increases in the percentage of the population in each city with at least one O3 exposure exceedance above 60 p.p.b and 70 p.p.b thresholds for future changes in climate. For these climate and population scenarios, the impact of projected changes in climate and air quality on human exposure to O3 are much larger than the impacts of changing demographics. These results indicate the potential for future changes in O3 exposure as a result of changes in climate that could impact human health.

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