Polluted air in the Tokyo metropolitan area poses the most danger to human health, followed by Osaka and Kanagawa, according to a newly compiled environmental health-risk study.
The study, conducted by a research group at Yokohama National University, shows that Shizuoka has the worst score among Japan’s 47 prefectures in terms of health risks linked to water pollution, followed by Ehime and Okayama.
The research team, led by Kohei Urano, a professor at Yokohama National University, compiled the results on the basis of pollution data published by the government.
Urano says his team has developed a formula to calculate the level of risk to health posed by chemical pollutants and assigned them numerical scores to help the public understand the level of risks to human health from chemicals in their community.
The research team, known as the Organization for Research and Communication on Environmental Risk of Chemicals, is currently working on health risks for all municipalities in Japan and plans to post the results, possibly as early as Tuesday, on its Japanese Web site env.safetyeng.bsk.ynu.ac.jp/ecochemi/
The data will be illustrated with color-coded maps grading the level of risks to health in the 47 prefectures and 3,000 or so cities, towns and villages.
Urano says the project will give the public, as well as policymakers, an idea of how to prioritize policies to combat pollution.
In March, the government issued its first report on annual emissions of more than 300 chemicals in Japan, but the data do not contain information on health risks linked to pollution.
Urano says health risks calculated by his research team are based on the toxicity of different chemicals and the levels of emissions in given areas.
Urano cautions that a high score in the risk to health does not automatically translate into a high incidence of health problems.
“The data should be used as a reference to design policies to curb the emission of harmful chemicals,” he said.