MED HISS project aimed at contributing to the updating and development of European Union environmental policy and legislation, in order to mitigate adverse health effects of air pollution.
For many years the understanding of the association between long-term exposure to air pollution and adverse health effects was based on cohort studies from USA, Canada, Japan, China.
In recent years, new studies have been conducted in Europe, but often with restrictions on age of cohort recruited, on pollutant studied, and with poor geographical variability (mainly on urban areas). Health Impact Assessment (HIA) previously done on European population could have been biased due to the use of risks estimated from northern American cohorts to European population, exposed to different particulate chemical composition as well as with different population characteristics.
MED HISS aimed at contributing to consolidate the knowledge base for the development, assessment, monitoring and evaluation of environmental policy and legislation, by setting up a low-cost European surveillance system of long term effects of air pollution based on cohorts recruited using National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data already available. Ideally, the cohorts could be followed-up for mortality and morbidity (and other health outcomes), each subject has information on individual life style factors as well as previous notable pathologies and to each subject it is possible to assign the exposure to air pollution (PM10, PM2.5, Nox, NO2, O3), derived from national dispersion models and opportunely post processed.
MED HISS cohorts are indeed representative of all populations and areas of residence (urban, rural, metropolitan) and long term effect have been evaluated for a wide range of diseases.
MED HISS was a demonstration project and involved four European countries (Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia), in order to guarantee to the EU a source of information for HIA based on direct measurements.
MED HISS aim has been to assess the feasibility of the adopted approach in other European countries, to create a European cohort database of individual characteristic and air pollution data exposure useful also for future studies on other environmental issues, with a specific attention to exposure assessment methods.