Researching health effects of transport systems

Investigating the health effects of pollutants, pollutant mixes, noise and other hazards from transport where evidence is incomplete and human exposure is significant (e.g. diesel engine emissions, and especially fine and ultrafine particles), including their possible carcinogenic risk potential.

Promote investigation of the health effects of exposure to pollutant mixtures, noise and other hazards, including their combined effects inside motor vehicles, on pavements, on bicycles, and due to living and/or working near busy roads, and elaborate guidelines (including guideline values) for these exposure levels.

Until now, the health effects of transport have been dealt with separately and without regard for their cumulative effect. Further coordination with and within the health sector is needed to establish guideline values where possible for ambient levels of and exposure to pollutants and noise, in particular for those pollutants for which guideline values are not yet available, with a view to reviewing current air quality standards.

Road transport is a major contributor to human exposure to air pollution. Long-term exposure to air pollutants and levels exceeding air quality guideline values is associated with a number of adverse health impacts, including effects on cardiovascular diseases and on respiratory diseases in adults and children. Such exposure may reduce life expectancy. Some pollutants such as benzene and some types of particle, increase cancer risks.

Primary health concerns from transport include: mortality, cardiovascular and respiratory problems and cancer risks and neuro-developmental problems from transport-related air pollution; mortality and morbidity from transport accidents; risk of cardiovascular and other diseases from lack of physical exercise; human exposure to noise.

Further research is required for guidelines regarding the health risks of levels of exposure to fine and ultrafine particles based on assessment of their health effects, with particular attention to their number, mass, size, surface area and composition.

Assessment is required for the evidence of health risks from soil and water contamination due to transport and its infrastructures in order to establish safe limits and control targets.

Investigation of the health and psychosocial effects of participation in modern traffic is required.

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies