Dieter was educated as a physicist (Dr rer.nat) and worked from 1975 to 1994 on air quality management in the Centre for Air Pollution Research, Essen, Germany, a centre associated to the Ministry of Environment of the State of Northrhine Westphalia (NW). His experience includes the preparation of studies on sustainable industrial projects (e.g. power plants, smelters) in local and regional planning. He developed the main aspects of planning and evaluating health and environmental impact inventories within the clean air implementation plans of NW.
From May 1994 to March 2003 Dr Schwela worked on secondment (from the Ministry of Environment) at the World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. He was responsible for the normative work of WHO in the field of air quality, especially for the global WHO Guidelines for Air Quality, the WHO Guidelines for Community Noise, and the WHO-UNEP-WMO Health Guidelines for Vegetation Fire Events, for which he organised expert meetings. He was also responsible for the Air Management Information System of WHO. Dr Schwela provided his expert advice to the governmental agencies of several developing countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. During his time at WHO Dr Schwela gave keynote rolees and invited talks at many conferences in the field of indoor and outdoor air pollution.
From April 2003 to March 2005 Dr Schwela was on secondment at the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy. He worked in the field of exposure to, and health impacts of, releases of chemicals from consumer products. This work has contributed exposure and health information to the European Information System for Chemical Risks EIS ChemRisks.
Since November 2000 Dr Schwela was Task Force member of the Air Pollution in the Megacities of Asia (APMA) project, initiated by UNEP and supported by WHO, SEI and KEI (Korean Environment Institute, Seoul), and integrated within RAPIDC. He developed “A Strategic Framework for Air Quality Management in Asia”, which is intended to support Governments of developing countries to develop and/or strengthen air quality procedures within local and regional planning.
Since April 2005 Dr Schwela has been with the Stockholm Environment Institute York Centre.