Objective: To investigate the association between ambient concentrations of air pollutants and respiratory and cardiovascular mortalities in Hong Kong.
Methods: Retrospective ecological study. A Poisson regression of concentrations of daily air pollutants on daily mortalities for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in Hong Kong from 1995 to the end of 1998 was performed using the air pollution and health: the European approach (APHEA) protocol. The effects of time trend, seasonal variations, temperature, and humidity were adjusted. Autocorrelation and overdispersion were corrected. Daily concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3), and particulate matter <10 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) were averaged from eight monitoring stations in Hong Kong. Relative risks (RRs) of respiratory and cardiovascular mortalities (per 10 µg/m3 increase in air pollutant concentration) were calculated.
Results: Significant associations were found between mortalities for all respiratory diseases and ischaemic heart diseases (IHD) and the concentrations of all pollutants when analysed singly. The RRs for all respiratory mortalities (for a 10 µg/m3 increase in the concentration of a pollutant) ranged from 1.008 (for PM10) to 1.015 (for SO2) and were higher for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) with all pollutants except SO2, ranging from 1.017 (for PM10) to 1.034 (for O3). RRs for IHD ranged from 1.009 (for O3) to 1.028 (for SO2). In a multipollutant model, O3 and SO2 were significantly associated with all respiratory mortalities, whereas NO2 was associated with mortality from IHD. No interactions were detected between any of the pollutants or with the winter season. A dose-response effect was evident for all air pollutants. Harvesting was not found in the short term.
Conclusions: Mortality risks were detected at current ambient concentrations of air pollutants. The associations with the particulates and some gaseous pollutants when analysed singly were consistent with many reported in temperate countries. PM10 was not associated with respiratory or cardiovascular mortalities in multipollutant analyses.