July 2010: Air pollution research: Switzerland ranks among the top in the world

A recent analyses of all scientific articles (>25'000) on 'air pollution' published 1955-2006 give very high scores to Swiss researche teams. Two of the "top ten" most productive scientists in the world are long-term members of the SAPALDIA research team. Among the countries with regular research activity in this field, the Dutch, Swedish, and Swiss publications rank highest with regard to the average citatation per article - a measure of the impact and attention this research gets in the world. The Swiss top ranking is heavily driven by SAPALDIA research, publicly funded by the Siss National Science Foundation.

After decades of limited funds for this research, the world-wide number of publications began to raise dramatically since 1991. The year marks the time of the first SAPALDIA investigation and the beginning of a new area with fast developments of novel research methods to investigate the consequences of current day air pollution. International research of the past 20 years resulted in much stronger air quality policies, adopted in many countries of the world. This led to improved air quality particularly in the US and the mid and Northern part of Europe, including Switzerland. SAPALDIA has shown that the health of the Swiss population benefited from these environmental improvements.

SAPALDIA 3 will elucidate the role of various traffic-related pollutants in the development of chronic diseases. The SAPALDIA team also attempts to clarify who is most susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution and why some people may not be affected. This will be most relevant not only to advance knowledge but for prevention and public health policy making.

The SAPALDIA research is possible only thanks to the continued contribution of the SAPALDIA participants. Although SAPALDIA participants are not paid for their 2-3 hours exam, the response rates remain very promising also during the ongoing third round of investigations (SAPALDIA 3).