gms | German Medical Science

53. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e. V. (GMDS)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie

15. bis 18.09.2008, Stuttgart

Aerosol pollution over the Pearl River Delta, P.R. China. Amount and possible health risks – a systematic literature review

Meeting Abstract

  • Heiko Jahn - Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Deutschland
  • Romy Eißner - Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Deutschland
  • Manfred Wendisch - Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz, Deutschland
  • Alexander Krämer - Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Deutschland

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie. 53. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds). Stuttgart, 15.-19.09.2008. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2008. DocP-6

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: September 10, 2008

© 2008 Jahn et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.




Megaurbanisation and fast economical growth in China’s megacities lead to considerable adverse environmental effects [1], [2]. Increasing urban traffic and industrial activities induce severe aerosol burden [3]. Aerosols affect human health causing among others cancer as well as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]. Taking into account that urban air pollution globally causes substantial disease burden (0.8 million deaths, 6.4 million Years of Life Lost, 7.9 million Disability Adjusted Life Years) [9], this literature review aims to examine the amount of ambient aerosols in China’s industrial centre, the Pearl River Delta (PRD) and compares the results with international and national air quality guidelines.


A two step literature search was conducted between January and March 2008. The Medline® data base was used for the initial literature search. The combination of the keywords “Guangdong” or “Pearl River Delta” or “Guangzhou” and pollut* provided 200 references. 48 of them were identified to deal with anthropogenic ambient aerosol pollution in the considered region. Based on their abstracts, 17 studies were selected for further analysis. In the second step, the reference lists of the 17 papers were examined for further studies according to the review protocol.


Finally, 34 studies were thoroughly scrutinised resulting in 15 studies that reported aerosol burden measured since 2000 in PRD. Almost all of the studies reported levels of annual mean PM10 clearly exceeding the WHO Air Quality Guidelines (AQG) of 20 µg/m3 and the Chinese Ambient Air Quality Standards (40µg/m3 annual mean). PM2.5 data were less frequently reported and exceeded AQG (10µg/m3 annual and 25µg/m3 daily) and the United States’ National Ambient Air Quality Standards (15µg/m3 annual and 35µg/m3 daily) by far.


Taking into account that a number of Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou in PRD have some of the world’s highest recorded outdoor PM10 levels [4], [10], and that our results show that almost all data clearly exceed national and international air quality guidelines, high burden of aerosol-related diseases can be expected in PRD. Further epidemiological studies should be carried out to determine more precisely the spatial distribution of aerosol-related health risks in PRD. Environmental protection measures and public health interventions are required to reduce aerosol-related burden of disease in PRD.


Deng H, Peng P, Huang W, Song J. Distribution and loadings of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the Xijiang River in Guangdong, South China. Chemosphere. 2006;64(8):1401-11.
Tang XL, Bi XH, Sheng GY, Tan JH, Fu JM. Seasonal variation of the particle size distribution of n-alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban aerosol of Guangzhou, China. Environ Monit Assess. 2006;117(1-3):193-213.
Hu M, Zhou F, Shao K, Zhang Y, Tang X, Slanina J. Diurnal variations of aerosol chemical compositions and related gaseous pollutants in Beijing and Guangzhou. J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2002;37(4):479-88.
HEI. Health Effects of Outdoor Air Pollution in Developing Countries of Asia: A Literature Review. Boston: Health Effects Institute; 2004.
Ibald-Mulli A, Wichmann HE, Kreyling W, Peters A. Epidemiological evidence on health effects of ultrafine particles. J Aerosol Med. 2002;15(2):189-201.
Qian Z, Chapman RS, Hu W, Wei F, Korn LR, Zhang JJ. Using air pollution based community clusters to explore air pollution health effects in children. Environ Int. 2004;30(5):611-20.
WHO. Particulate matter air pollution: how it harms. Bonn: WHO; 2005.
Peters A, Dockery DW, Muller JE, Mittleman MA. Increased particulate air pollution and the triggering of myocardial infarction. Circulation. 2001;103(23):2810-5.
WHO. World Health Report. Reducing risks, promoting healthy life. Geneva: World Health Organisation; 2002.
Qian Z, Zhang J, Wei F, Wilson WE, Chapman RS. Long-term ambient air pollution levels in four Chinese cities: inter-city and intra-city concentration gradients for epidemiological studies. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2001;11:341-51.