Outdoor air pollution and respiratory health: a bibliometric analysis of publications in peer-reviewed journals (1900 – 2017)

Waleed M. SweilehSamah W. Al-JabiSa’ed H. Zyoud and Ansam F. Sawalha 

Abstract

Background

Outdoor air pollution is a major threat to global public health that needs responsible participation of researchers at all levels. Assessing research output is an important step in highlighting national and international contribution and collaboration in a certain field. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze globally-published literature in outdoor air pollution – related respiratory health.

Method

Outdoor air pollution documents related to respiratory health were retrieved from Scopus database. The study period was up to 2017. Mapping of author keywords was carried out using VOSviewer 1.6.6.

Results

Search query yielded 3635 documents with an h-index of 137. There was a dramatic increase in the number of publications in the last decade of the study period. The most frequently encountered author keywords were: air pollution (835 occurrences), asthma (502 occurrences), particulate matter (198 occurrences), and children (203 occurrences). The United States of America ranked first (1082; 29.8%) followed by the United Kingdom (279; 7.7%) and Italy (198; 5.4%). Annual research productivity stratified by income and population size indicated that China ranked first (22.2) followed by the USA (18.8). Analysis of regional distribution of publications indicated that the Mediterranean, African, and South-East Asia regions had the least contribution. Harvard University (92; 2.5%) was the most active institution/organization followed the US Environmental Protection Agency (89; 2.4%). International collaboration was restricted to three regions: Northern America, Europe, and Asia. The top ten preferred journals were in the field of environmental health and respiratory health. Environmental Health Perspective was the most preferred journal for publishing documents in outdoor pollution in relation to respiratory health.

Conclusion

Research on the impact of outdoor air pollution on respiratory health had accelerated lately and is receiving a lot of interest. Global research networks that include countries with high level of pollution and limited resources are highly needed to create public opinion in favor of minimizing outdoor air pollution and investing in green technologies.

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