Environmental and Health Benefits Assessment of Reducing PM2.5 Concentrations in Urban Areas in Developing Countries: Case Study Cartagena de Indias

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High concentrations of particulate matter (PM) could significantly reduce the quality of useful life and human life expectancy. The origin, control, and management of the problem has made great steps in recent decades. However, the problem is still prominent in developing countries. In fact, often the number and spatial distribution of the air quality monitoring stations does not have an appropriate design, misleading decision makers. In the present research, an innovative assessment is proposed of the environmental, health and economic benefits corresponding to a 20% reduction in the PM2.5 concentration in the urban area of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Cases of mortality and morbidity attributable to fine particles (PM2.5) were estimated, with particular emphasis on mortality, emergency room visits and hospitalizations from respiratory diseases, in addition to their economic assessment using BenMAP-CE®. The novelty of using BenMAP-CE® in studying respiratory diseases and PM2.5 exposure in developing countries lies in its ability to provide a comprehensive assessment of the health impacts of air pollution in these regions. This approach can aid in the development of evidence-based policy and intervention strategies to mitigate the impact of air pollution on respiratory health. Several concentration-response (C-R) functions were implemented to find PM2.5 attributable mortality cases of ischemic heart and cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, as well as cases of morbidity episodes related to asthma exacerbation and emergency room/hospitalization care for respiratory disease. A 20% reduction would have avoided 104 cases of premature death among the population older than 30 in Cartagena, and around 65 cases of premature mortality without external causes.