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Impacts of intercontinental transport of anthropogenic fine particulate matter on human mortality

Abstract: 
Fine particulate matter with diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5) is associated with premature mortality and can travel long distances, impacting air quality and health on intercontinental scales. We estimate the mortality impacts of 20 % anthropogenic primary PM2.5 and PM2.5 precursor emission reductions in each of four major industrial regions (North America, Europe, East Asia, and South Asia) using an nsemble of global chemical transport model simulations coordinated by the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution and epidemiologically-derived concentration- response functions. We estimate that while 93–97 % of avoided deaths from reducing emissions in all four regions occur within the source region, 3–7 % (11,500; 95 % confi- dence interval, 8,800–14,200) occur outside the source region from concentrations transported between continents. Approximately 17 and 13 % of global deaths avoided by reducing North America and Europe emissions occur extraregionally, owing to large downwind populations, com- pared with 4 and 2 % for South and East Asia. The coarse resolution global models used here may underestimate intraregional health benefits occurring on local scales, affect- ing these relative contributions of extraregional versus intraregional health benefits. Compared with a previous study of 20 % ozone precursor emission reductions, we find that despite greater transport efficiency for ozone, absolute mor- tality impacts of intercontinental PM2.5 transport are compa- rable or greater for neighboring source-receptor pairs, due to the stronger effect of PM2.5 on mortality. However, uncer- tainties in modeling and concentration-response relationships are large for both estimates.