Using Bayesian Networks for Environmental Health Risk Assessment

Using Bayesian Networks for Environmental Health Risk Assessment

Presented at the 9th Annual BayesiaLab Conference on October 13, 2021.


Bayesian networks are a very powerful tool to better understand the links between the living environment of the population and its health. The study reported here investigated the potential relationships between air pollution, socio-economy, and proven pathologies (e.g., respiratory, cardiovascular) within an industrial area in Southern France (Etang de Berre), gathering steel industries, oil refineries, shipping, road traffic, and experiencing a Mediterranean climate. A total of 178 variables were simultaneously integrated within a Bayesian model at an intra-urban scale. Unsupervised and supervised algorithms (maximum spanning tree, tree-augmented naive classifier), as well as sensitivity analyses, were used to better understand the links between all variables and highlighted correlations between population exposure to air pollutants and some pathologies. Adverse health effects (bronchus and lung cancers for 15–65 years old people) were observed for hydrofluoric acid at low background concentration (<0.003 μg m−3) while exposure to particulate cadmium (0.210–0.250 μg m−3) disrupts insulin metabolism for people over 65 years-old leading to diabetes. Bronchus and lung cancers for people over 65 years old occurred at low background SO2 concentration (6 μg m−3) below European limit values. When benzo[k]fluoranthene exceeded 0.672 μg m−3, we observed a high number of hospital admissions for respiratory diseases for 15-65 years-old people. The study also revealed the important influence of socio-economy (e.g., single-parent family, people with no qualification at 15 years old) on pathologies (e.g., cardiovascular diseases). Finally, diffuse polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) pollution was observed in the study area and can potentially cause lung cancers.

Presentation Video

About the Presenter

Sandra Pérez, Ph.D.
98, Bd E. Herriot
BP 3209 06204
Nice Cedex

Sandra is an associate professor in geography at the University of Cote d'Azur. She has been conducting research in environmental health for 15 years, more specifically on the pathogenic potential of geographic spaces.

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