Researchers study the connection between health and air pollution in China

The project plans to conduct a school environment study in Shanghai to identify risk factors for children's health in outdoor environments, schools and homes.

A Swedish-Chinese research project will study the health effects on children in different parts of China from air pollution from outdoor environments, as well as exposure to the indoor climate in homes and schools.

Dan Norbäck, Docent in Occupational and Environ-
mental Medicine, is heading the project.

The health effects being studied are asthma, rhinitis, eczema, lung function and respiratory inflammation.

“We are studying the effects of current exposure as well as exposure during pregnancy and earlier in life,” says Dan Norbäck, Docent in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Uppsala University.

To study this, two large survey studies will be conducted among preschool children and primary school pupils in seven cities in China. The study of preschool children will examine trends in health, home environments and air pollution levels over a ten-year period by comparing previous data from these cities collected by researchers.

The schoolchildren study is a two-year follow-up of pupils in lower primary school in relation to illnesses, home environment and air pollution.

Risk factors for children’s health

The project also plans to conduct a school environment study in Shanghai and in rural areas near Shanghai to identify risk factors for children’s health in outdoor environments, at school and at home. Finally, two panel studies will be conducted, one in southern China and one in northern China, to study short-term effects on the respiratory system of short-term variations in outdoor air pollution, including the emission of small particulates (PM2.5).

“The project is highly relevant to public health work, as it covers the health effects of air pollution in China,” says Norbäck. “There have been improvements, not only outdoors but also in homes and schools. But at the same time, nitrogen dioxide emissions from traffic are on the rise and air pollution levels are 3–5 times higher than in Sweden.”



At the end of 2017, the Swedish Research Council granted a total of SEK 35.9 million to research projects in collaboration with China. Twelve projects were awarded grants and two of these are being conducted from Uppsala University.

‘Outdoor air pollution and indoor environment in homes and school in China’ is directed by Dan Norbäck in collaboration with Fudan University and has been awarded a grant in the amount of SEK 2.9 million.

Find out more:

Swedish-Chinese cooperation on health and the environment

31 January 2018