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Syndromic surveillance of air pollution incidents across international borders


The impact of poor air quality (AQ) on human health is a global issue, with periods of poor AQ known to occur in multiple locations, across different countries at, or around the same time. The Public Health England (PHE) Emergency Department Syndromic Surveillance System (EDSSS) is a public health legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, monitoring anonymised daily attendance data in near real-time from a sentinel network of up to 38 EDs across England and Northern Ireland during 2014. The Organisation de la Surveillance COordonnée des URgences (OSCOUR®) is a similar ED system coordinated by Santé publique France and has been running in France since 2004, established following a major heatwave in 2003 to improve real-time public health surveillance capabilities. This truly national network included around 540 EDs in 2014.


To assess the impact on human health observed in association with periods of poor air quality which extended across international borders, affecting both London (UK) and Paris (France). In particular to quantify increased levels of emergency department (ED) attendances for asthma and wheeze/ difficulty breathing, and how different age groups were affected. Here, using ED syndromic surveillance from England and France, we aimed to identify and describe the acute impact of periods of particularly poor air quality during 2014 on human health in both London and Paris.

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