GERIE & No 2006343 EC DG-SANCO funded projet

Indoor air pollution (IAP) is a major global public health problem requiring increasing efforts in research and policymaking. IAP may have special significance for elderly that are likely to spend most of their day indoors and appear to be particularly susceptible to the adverse respiratory and cardiovascular effects (i.e. symptoms, exacerbations, mortality) of air pollutants. Yet, evidence existing on the effects of IAP in elderly is scanty.

On this evidence, the European Commission of Public Health (Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs, DG SANCO) approved and funded a study on Health Effects of air quality in nursing homes to be held in heterogeneous European countries (Geriatric study in Europe on health effects of air quality in nursing homes - GERIE). The GERIE study aims to: 1) assess health effects of major indoor air pollutants and thermal conditions in elderly (> 70 years) living stably in nursing homes, and 2) measure air quality and thermal conditions in these homes; in 8 European countries with contrasting lifestyle; to 3) explain health and environmental disparities in elderly in the EU and seek to identify best practices.

Height nursing homes will be randomly selected in 8 European countries. In each nursing home, 20 individuals will be randomly selected. A follow-up study design will be used in order to allow investigating the evolution of air quality and health indicators. Major indoor air pollutants will be assessed twice with standardised procedures (18 months apart). Major health status indicators will be assessed twice and will include symptoms, diseases, neuropsychological status and medical records. Furthermore, the prognostic value in terms of severe morbidity and mortality of non invasive clinical tests and blood and urine biomarkers assessed at the inclusion of the individuals in the study will be determined. Standardised protocols and devices will be used to assess both clinical indicators and biomarkers. Exposures to occupational hazards and outdoor pollution will be modelled retrospectively. In the long term, gene-environment interactions will be searched for.

The GERIE study will provide the inventory of air quality and thermal conditions in nursing homes across Europe and the knowledge of potential air related hazards to which elderly people are exposed in nursing homes. This will allow investigating heterogeneity across Europe. The main long-term purpose of the GERIE study is to improve the health of elderly who permanently reside in nursing homes or of those who are exposed to indoor air pollution because of reduced mobility. The study will bring up also information on mechanisms underlying the response of the organisms to air pollutants in elderly.

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