Declining air pollution and its effect on mortality: findings from East Germany after reunification

Tobias C. Vogt, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The negative association between air pollution and human mortality is well established. Short episodes as well as continued exposure to high concentrations of sulphur dioxide (SO2) or nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are related to increased mortality mainly from circulatory and respiratory diseases. East Germans before reunification suffered from consistently high levels of air pollution which dropped dramatically after the fall of the iron curtain. At the same time mortality declined and eventually converged to the West German level. This study seeks to quantify the impact of dropping SO2 and NO2 concentrations on all-cause, circulatory and respiratory mortality as well as mortality from neoplasms and its contribution to converging life expectancy between East and West Germany.

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Presented in Session 21: Demographic impact of environmental hazards