The air quality in Swedish cities has improved continuously over the last 20 years, according to research based at the University of Gothenburg. Several thousand deaths may have been prevented every year, thanks to better air quality. However, many people are still exposed to air pollution that exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommendations.

In the study, published in Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, the researchers present a high-resolution data model of how air pollution levels have changed over time for six cities in Sweden: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Linköping, Uppsala, and Umeå. This means that the study covers more than half of the Swedish population. The researchers have studied emissions of fine particles (PM2.5), coarse particles (PM10), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from local, regional, and international sources. The studied emissions come from sources including traffic, industry, and wood burning, and have decreased significantly in Sweden since 2000.

“We estimate that almost 3,000 premature deaths were avoided per year between 2000 and 2018 in the six cities modeled in our study,” says Karl Kilbo Edlund, a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy, who is the lead author of the study. “Even more deaths can be avoided through continued work to improve air quality further. Many Swedes are still exposed to air pollution levels that exceed the World Health Organization’s 2021 air quality guidelines.”


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