Assessment of interactions between quality of urban landscape and human health, the case study in a Central European city

J.P. Oudinet, J. Meline, K. Obtulowicz, S. Wicherek, K. Piotrowicz, B. Julien-Laferriere


Due to important changes of urban landscape under rapid urbanization, the elaboration of a systematic diagnosis for assessing qualities of urban environment and health is urgently needed in order to develop then, a sustainable management of cities that could preserve the integrity of human life. For the last decade, industrial and domestic heating activities as well as, increases of vehicle use and road traffic are considered as the main anthropogenic sources of air pollution that had worsened considerably air quality in most large European cities, including Poland. Accordingly, numerous air quality assessment systems have evidenced that episode of exceeding levels of particulate matter < or equal to 10 m (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the main pollutants associated with traffic emissions have been commonly observed in Polish urban areas and were shown to be associated with the occurrence of asthma in sensitive groups of populations such as children. Assessing consequences of anthropogenic crisis linked to road traffic on childhood asthma requires the need of elaborating both risk and vulnerabilities assessment methods as well as, methods of risk-management in order to reduce health-risk and restore a better living for exposed population. The present study deals with the question of childhood asthma-risk linked to pollutants PM10 and NO2 in 3 different areas of Cracow (central and eastern parts with high traffic, residential south-eastern part with low traffic). Levels and spatial dispersions of PM10 and NO2 for the period 2001-2005 within these areas were estimated by using the specific traffic air dispersion model CALINE4; daily measurements of both pollutants from fixed air quality monitoring stations respectively located in each area and meteorological parameters as well, were taken into account. In order to calibrate input parameters such as pollutants and meteorological parameters in CALINE4, a preliminary study of Cracow urban ecology and landscape has been conducted. Preliminary results show that the urban landscape and urban ecology influence the geographical repartition and concentration levels of traffic air pollution around road. Indeed, density, structure and nature of urban network, meteorological conditions and place of living of sensible children are factor that may play in final, a role in asthmatic children exposure to air pollutants. Levels and spatial distribution of PM10 and NO2 concentrations within selected areas show the predominance of pollution from traffic in the last decade and appear to be dependent on both air mass stability classes and 2 main wind directions (East, West). The most vulnerable areas to air pollution emitted by traffic are found respectively, in the narrow high dense urban network associated with heavy traffic close to the historical downtown, near roads located in East-West direction of the wind, near the linking roads of the two downtowns of Cracow (The historical downtown and Nowa Huta) and near the bypass. Conversely, the characteristics of main low dense urban network, large roads, setting of residence areas far from the roads constitute a non-negligible landscape advantage in the protection of air quality. Large vegetation areas found in the three studied areas may also play the role of an ecological buffer of air pollution from traffic, especially in the most vulnerable areas. For instance, the green belt “Planté”, rare in other European downtowns and settled around the historical downtown, may protect this heritage and crowded area from air pollution emitted by high dense traffic in Alea Krasinskiego. In Nowa Huta, the second “downtown” of Cracow, are found preserved large vegetation areas “Bognié” near the residential areas and in suburbs such as Prokocim district, are located large vegetation areas near the main busy roads that may be also involved in regulating air pollution fromroad traffic. This great advantage of ecological buffer in the landscape of Cracow could be used by planners to reorganize transportation in Cracow and improve air quality in this city

Słowa kluczowe

urban air pollution, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, childhood asthma

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