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1.  Decline in air pollution and change in prevalence in respiratory symptoms and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in elderly women 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):113.
While adverse effects of exposure to air pollutants on respiratory health are well studied, little is known about the effect of a reduction in air pollutants on chronic respiratory symptoms and diseases. We investigated whether different declines in air pollution levels in industrialised and rural areas in Germany were associated with changes in respiratory health over a period of about 20 years.
We used data from the SALIA cohort study in Germany (Study on the influence of Air pollution on Lung function, Inflammation and Aging) to assess the association between the prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic respiratory symptoms and the decline in air pollution exposure. In 1985-1994, 4874 women aged 55-years took part in the baseline investigation. Of these, 2116 participated in a questionnaire follow-up in 2006 and in a subgroup of 402 women lung function was tested in 2008-2009. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) models were used to estimate the effect of a reduction in air pollution on respiratory symptoms and diseases.
Ambient air concentrations of particulate matter with aerodynamic size < 10 μm (PM10) declined in average by 20 μg/m3. Prevalence of chronic cough with phlegm production and mild COPD at baseline investigation compared to follow-up was 9.5% vs. 13.3% and 8.6% vs. 18.2%, respectively. A steeper decline of PM10 was observed in the industrialized areas in comparison to the rural area, this was associated with a weaker increase in prevalence of respiratory symptoms and COPD. Among women who never smoked, the prevalence of chronic cough with phlegm and mild COPD was estimated at 21.4% and 39.5%, respectively, if no air pollution reduction was assumed, and at 13.3% and 17.5%, respectively, if air pollution reduction was assumed.
We concluded that parallel to the decline of ambient air pollution over the last 20 years in the Ruhr area the age-related increase in chronic respiratory diseases and symptoms appears to attenuate in the population of elderly women.
PMCID: PMC2936381  PMID: 20727210
2.  Ambient Air Pollution and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults: Results from the MOBILIZE Boston Study 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2014;122(6):553-558.
Background: Exposure to ambient air pollution, particularly from traffic, has been associated with adverse cognitive outcomes, but the association with depressive symptoms remains unclear.
Objectives: We investigated the association between exposure to ambient air and traffic pollution and the presence of depressive symptoms among 732 Boston-area adults ≥ 65 years of age (78.1 ± 5.5 years, mean ± SD).
Methods: We assessed depressive symptoms during home interviews using the Revised Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD-R). We estimated residential distance to the nearest major roadway as a marker of long-term exposure to traffic pollution and assessed short-term exposure to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sulfates, black carbon (BC), ultrafine particles, and gaseous pollutants, averaged over the 2 weeks preceding each assessment. We used generalized estimating equations to estimate the odds ratio (OR) of a CESD-R score ≥ 16 associated with exposure, adjusting for potential confounders. In sensitivity analyses, we considered CESD-R score as a continuous outcome and mean annual residential BC as an alternate marker of long-term exposure to traffic pollution.
Results: We found no evidence of a positive association between depressive symptoms and long-term exposure to traffic pollution or short-term changes in pollutant levels. For example, we found an OR of CESD-R score ≥ 16 of 0.67 (95% CI: 0.46, 0.98) per interquartile range (3.4 μg/m3) increase in PM2.5 over the 2 weeks preceding assessment.
Conclusions: We found no evidence suggesting that ambient air pollution is associated with depressive symptoms among older adults living in a metropolitan area in attainment of current U.S. regulatory standards.
Citation: Wang Y, Eliot MN, Koutrakis P, Gryparis A, Schwartz JD, Coull BA, Mittleman MA, Milberg WP, Lipsitz LA, Wellenius GA. 2014. Ambient air pollution and depressive symptoms in older adults: results from the MOBILIZE Boston Study. Environ Health Perspect 122:553–558;
PMCID: PMC4050499  PMID: 24610154
3.  Cardiorespiratory Biomarker Responses in Healthy Young Adults to Drastic Air Quality Changes Surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympics 
Associations between air pollution and cardiorespiratory mortality and morbidity have been well established, but data to support biologic mechanisms underlying these associations are limited. We designed this study to examine several prominently hypothesized mechanisms by assessing Beijing residents’ biologic responses, at the biomarker level, to drastic changes in air quality brought about by unprecedented air pollution control measures implemented during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
To test the hypothesis that changes in air pollution levels are associated with changes in biomarker levels reflecting inflammation, hemostasis, oxidative stress, and autonomic tone, we recruited and retained 125 nonsmoking adults (19 to 33 years old) free of cardiorespiratory and other chronic diseases. Using the combination of a quasi-experimental design and a panel-study approach, we measured biomarkers of autonomic dysfunction (heart rate [HR*] and heart rate variability [HRV]), of systemic inflammation and oxidative stress (plasma C-reactive protein [CRP], fibrinogen, blood cell counts and differentials, and urinary 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine [8-OHdG]), of pulmonary inflammation and oxidative stress (fractional exhaled nitric oxide [FeNO], exhaled breath condensate [EBC] pH, EBC nitrate, EBC nitrite, EBC nitrite+nitrate [sum of the concentrations of nitrite and nitrate], and EBC 8-isoprostane), of hemostasis (platelet activation [plasma sCD62P and sCD40L], platelet aggregation, and von Willebrand factor [vWF]), and of blood pressure (systolic blood pressure [SBP] and diastolic blood pressure [DBP]). These biomarkers were measured on each subject twice before, twice during, and twice after the Beijing Olympics. For each subject, repeated measurements were separated by at least one week to avoid potential residual effects from a prior measurement. We measured a large suite of air pollutants (PM2.5 [particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter] and constituents, sulfur dioxide [SO2], carbon monoxide [CO], nitrogen dioxide [NO2], and ozone [O3]) throughout the study at a central Beijing site near the residences and workplaces of the subjects on a daily basis. Total particle number (TPN) was also measured at a separate site. We used a time-series analysis to assess changes in pollutant concentration by period (pre-, during-, and post-Olympics periods). We used mixed-effects models to assess changes in biomarker levels by period and to estimate changes associated with increases in pollutant concentrations, controlling for ambient temperature, relative humidity (RH), sex, and the day of the week of the biomarker measurements. We conducted sensitivity analyses to assess the impact of potential temporal confounding and exposure misclassification.
We observed reductions in mean concentrations for all measured pollutants except O3 from the pre-Olympics period to the during-Olympics period. On average, elemental carbon (EC) changed by −36%, TPN by −22%, SO2 by −60%, CO by −48%, and NO2 by −43% (P < 0.05 for all these pollutants). Reductions were observed in mean concentrations of PM2.5 (by −27%), sulfate (SO42−) (by −13%), and organic carbon (OC) (by −23%); however, these values were not statistically significant. Both 24-hour averages and 1-hour maximums of O3 increased (by 20% and 17%, respectively) from the pre-Olympics to the during-Olympics period. In the post-Olympics period after the pollution control measures were relaxed, mean concentrations of most pollutants (with the exception of SO42− and O3) increased to levels similar to or higher than pre-Olympics levels.
Concomitantly and consistent with the hypothesis, we observed, from the pre-Olympics to the during-Olympics period, statistically significant (P ≤ 0.05) or marginally significant (0.05 < P < 0.1) decreases in HR (−1 bpm or −1.7% [95% CI, −3.4 to −0.1]), SBP (−1.6 mmHg or − 1.8% [95% CI, −3.9 to 0.4]), 8-OHdG (−58.3% [95% CI, −72.5 to −36.7]), FeNO (−60.3% [95% CI, −66.0 to −53.6]), EBC nitrite (−30.0% [95% CI, −39.3 to −19.3]), EBC nitrate (−21.5% [95% CI, −35.5 to −4.5]), EBC nitrite+nitrate (−17.6% [95% CI, −28.4 to −5.1]), EBC hydrogen ions (−46% [calculated from EBC pH], or +3.5% in EBC pH [95% CI, 2.2 to 4.9]), sCD62P (−34% [95% CI, −38.4 to −29.2]), sCD40L (−5.7% [95% CI, −10.5 to −0.7]), and vWF (−13.1% [95% CI, −18.6 to −7.5]). Moreover, the percentages of above-detection values out of all observations were significantly lower for plasma CRP and EBC 8-isoprostane in the during-Olympics period compared with the pre-Olympics period. In the post-Olympics period, the levels of the following biomarkers reversed (increased, either with or without statistical significance) from those in the during-Olympics period: SBP (10.7% [95% CI, 2.8 to 18.6]), fibrinogen (4.3% [95% CI, −1.7 to 10.2), neutrophil count (4.7% [95% CI, −7.7 to 17.0]), 8-OHdG (315% [95% CI, 62.0 to 962]), FeNO (130% [95% CI, 62.5 to 225]), EBC nitrite (159% [95% CI, 71.8 to 292]), EBC nitrate (161% [95% CI, 48.0 to 362]), EBC nitrite+nitrate (124% [95% CI, 50.9 to 233]), EBC hydrogen ions (146% [calculated from EBC pH] or −4.8% in EBC pH [95% CI, −9.4 to −0.2]), sCD62P (33.7% [95% CI, 17.7 to 51.8]), and sCD40L (9.1% [95% CI, −3.7 to 23.5]).
Furthermore, these biomarkers also showed statistically significant associations with multiple pollutants across different lags after adjusting for meteorologic parameters. The associations were in the directions hypothesized and were consistent with the findings from the comparisons between periods, providing further evidence that the period effects were due to changes in air quality, independent of season and meteorologic conditions or other potential confounders. Contrary to our hypothesis, however, we observed increases in platelet aggregation, red blood cells (RBCs) and white blood cells (WBCs) associated with the during-Olympics period, as well as significant negative associations of these biomarkers with pollutant concentrations. We did not observe significant changes in any of the HRV indices and DBP by period. However, we observed associations between a few HRV indices and pollutant concentrations.
Changes in air pollution levels during the Beijing Olympics were associated with acute changes in biomarkers of pulmonary and systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, and hemostasis and in measures of cardiovascular physiology (HR and SBP) in healthy, young adults. These changes support the prominently hypothesized mechanistic pathways underlying the cardiorespiratory effects of air pollution.
PMCID: PMC4086245  PMID: 23646463
4.  Ambient particulate air pollution and cardiac arrhythmia in a panel of older adults in Steubenville, Ohio 
Ambient particulate air pollution has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Pathways by which particles may act involve autonomic nervous system dysfunction or inflammation, which can affect cardiac rate and rhythm. The importance of these pathways may vary by particle component or source. In an eastern US location with significant regional pollution, the authors examined the association of air pollution and odds of cardiac arrhythmia in older adults.
Thirty two non‐smoking older adults were evaluated on a weekly basis for 24 weeks during the summer and autumn of 2000 with a standardised 30 minute protocol that included continuous electrocardiogram measurements. A central ambient monitoring station provided daily concentrations of fine particles (PM2.5, sulfate, elemental carbon) and gases. Sulfate was used as a marker of regional pollution. The authors used logistic mixed effects regression to examine the odds of having any supraventricular ectopy (SVE) or ventricular ectopy (VE) in association with increases in air pollution for moving average pollutant concentrations up to 10 days before the health assessment.
Participant specific mean counts of arrhythmia over the protocol varied between 0.1–363 for SVE and 0–350 for VE. The authors observed odds ratios for having SVE over the length of the protocol of 1.42 (95% CI 0.99 to 2.04), 1.70 (95% CI 1.12 to 2.57), and 1.78 (95% CI 0.95 to 3.35) for 10.0 μg/m3, 4.2 μg/m3, and 14.9 ppb increases in five day moving average PM2.5, sulfate, and ozone concentrations respectively. The other pollutants, including elemental carbon, showed no effect on arrhythmia. Participants reporting cardiovascular conditions (for example, previous myocardial infarction or hypertension) were the most susceptible to pollution induced SVE. The authors found no association of pollution with VE.
Increased levels of ambient sulfate and ozone may increase the risk of supraventricular arrhythmia in the elderly.
PMCID: PMC2078044  PMID: 16757505
air pollution; PM2.5; epidemiology; cardiovascular disease; arrhythmia
5.  Electrocardiographic ST-Segment Depression and Exposure to Traffic‐Related Aerosols in Elderly Subjects with Coronary Artery Disease 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;119(2):196-202.
Air pollutants have not been associated with ambulatory electrocardiographic evidence of ST-segment depression ≥ 1 mm (probable cardiac ischemia). We previously found that markers of primary (combustion-related) organic aerosols and gases were positively associated with circulating biomarkers of inflammation and ambulatory blood pressure in the present cohort panel study of elderly subjects with coronary artery disease.
We specifically aimed to evaluate whether exposure markers of primary organic aerosols and ultrafine particles were more strongly associated with ST-segment depression of ≥ 1 mm than were secondary organic aerosols or PM2.5 (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm) mass.
We evaluated relations of air pollutants to ambulatory electrocardiographic evidence of cardiac ischemia over 10 days in 38 subjects without ST depression on baseline electrocardiographs. Exposures were measured outdoors in retirement communities in the Los Angeles basin, including daily size-fractionated particle mass and hourly markers of primary and secondary organic aerosols and gases. Generalized estimating equations were used to estimate odds of hourly ST-segment depression (≥ 1 mm) from hourly air pollution exposures and to estimate relative rates of daily counts of ST-segment depression from daily average exposures, controlling for potential confounders.
We found significant positive associations of hourly ST-segment depression with markers of combustion-related aerosols and gases averaged 1-hr through 3–4 days, but not secondary (photochemically aged) organic aerosols or ozone. The odds ratio per interquartile increase in 2-day average primary organic carbon (5.2 μg/m3) was 15.4 (95% confidence interval, 3.5–68.2). Daily counts of ST-segment depression were consistently associated with primary combustion markers and 2-day average quasi-ultrafine particles < 0.25 μm.
Results suggest that exposure to quasi-ultrafine particles and combustion-related pollutants (predominantly from traffic) increase the risk of myocardial ischemia, coherent with our previous findings for systemic inflammation and blood pressure.
PMCID: PMC3040606  PMID: 20965803
aerosols; air; coronary artery disease; epidemiology; longitudinal data analysis; myocardial ischemia; outdoor air; size distribution
6.  The Association between Ambient Air Pollution and Daily Mortality in Beijing after the 2008 Olympics: A Time Series Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76759.
In recent decades, ambient air pollution has been an important public health issue in Beijing, but little is known about air pollution and health effects after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We conduct a time-series analysis to evaluate associations between daily mortality (nonaccidental, cardiovascular and respiratory mortality) and the major air pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter less than 10 µm in aerodynamic diameter) in Beijing during the two years (2009∼2010) after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We used generalized additive model to analyze relationship between daily mortality and air pollution. In single air pollutant model with two-day moving average concentrations of the air pollutants, increase in their interquartile range (IQR) associated with percent increase in nonaccidental mortality, 2.55 percent [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.99, 3.11] for CO, 2.54 percent (95% CI: 2.00, 3.08) for NO2 and 1.80 percent (95% CI: 1.21, 2.40) for PM10, respectively; increases in the IQR of air pollutant concentrations associated with percent increase in cardiovascular mortality, 2.88 percent (95% CI: 2.10,3.65) for CO, 2.63 percent (95% CI: 1.87, 3.39) for NO2 and 1.72 percent (95% CI: 0.88, 2.55) for PM10, respectively; and increase in IQR of air pollutant concentrations associated with respiratory mortality, 2.39 percent (95% CI: 0.68, 4.09) for CO, 1.79 percent (95% CI: 0.11, 3.47) for NO2 and 2.07 percent (95% CI: 0.21, 3.92) for PM10, respectively. We used the principal component analysis to avoid collinearity of varied air pollutants. In addition, the association stratified by sex and age was also examined. Ambient air pollution remained a significant contributor to nonaccidental and cardiopulmonary mortalities in Beijing during 2009∼2010.
PMCID: PMC3800078  PMID: 24204670
7.  Air Pollution, Aeroallergens, and Emergency Room Visits for Acute Respiratory Diseases and Gastroenteric Disorders among Young Children in Six Italian Cities 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2009;117(11):1780-1785.
Past studies reported evidence of associations between air pollution and respiratory symptoms and morbidity for children. Few studies examined associations between air pollution and emergency room (ER) visits for wheezing, and even fewer for gastroenteric illness. We conducted a multicity analysis of the relationship between air pollution and ER visits for wheezing and gastroenteric disorder in children 0–2 years of age.
We obtained ER visit records for wheezing and gastroenteric disorder from six Italian cities. A city-specific case–crossover analysis was applied to estimate effects of particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide, adjusting for immediate and delayed effects of temperature. Lagged effects of air pollutants up to 6 prior days were examined. The city-specific results were combined using a random-effect meta-analysis.
CO and SO2 were most strongly associated with wheezing, with a 2.7% increase [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.5–4.9] for a 1.04-μg/m3 increase in 7-day average CO and a 3.4% (95% CI, 1.5–5.3) increase for an 8.0-μg/m3 increase in SO2. Positive associations were also found for PM with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 μg and NO2. We found a significant association between the 3-day moving average CO and gastroenteric disorders [3.8% increase (95% CI, 1.0–6.8)]. When data were stratified by season, the associations were stronger in summer for wheezing and in winter for gastroenteric disorders.
Air pollution is associated with triggering of wheezing and gastroenteric disorders in children 0–2 years of age; more work is needed to understand the mechanisms to help prevent wheezing in children.
PMCID: PMC2801171  PMID: 20049132
air pollution; asthma in children; epidemiology of asthma; children’s health
8.  Air Pollution and the Microvasculature: A Cross-Sectional Assessment of In Vivo Retinal Images in the Population-Based Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(11):e1000372.
Sara Adar and colleagues show that residing in locations with higher air pollution concentrations and experiencing daily increases in air pollution are associated with narrower retinal arteriolar diameters in older individuals, thus providing a link between air pollution and cardiovascular disease.
Long- and short-term exposures to air pollution, especially fine particulate matter (PM2.5), have been linked to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. One hypothesized mechanism for these associations involves microvascular effects. Retinal photography provides a novel, in vivo approach to examine the association of air pollution with changes in the human microvasculature.
Methods and Findings
Chronic and acute associations between residential air pollution concentrations and retinal vessel diameters, expressed as central retinal arteriolar equivalents (CRAE) and central retinal venular equivalents (CRVE), were examined using digital retinal images taken in Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) participants between 2002 and 2003. Study participants (46 to 87 years of age) were without clinical cardiovascular disease at the baseline examination (2000–2002). Long-term outdoor concentrations of PM2.5 were estimated at each participant's home for the 2 years preceding the clinical exam using a spatio-temporal model. Short-term concentrations were assigned using outdoor measurements on the day preceding the clinical exam. Residential proximity to roadways was also used as an indicator of long-term traffic exposures. All associations were examined using linear regression models adjusted for subject-specific age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, body mass index, family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes status, serum cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, emphysema, C-reactive protein, medication use, and fellow vessel diameter. Short-term associations were further controlled for weather and seasonality. Among the 4,607 participants with complete data, CRAE were found to be narrower among persons residing in regions with increased long- and short-term levels of PM2.5. These relationships were observed in a joint exposure model with −0.8 µm (95% confidence interval [CI] −1.1 to −0.5) and −0.4 µm (95% CI −0.8 to 0.1) decreases in CRAE per interquartile increases in long- (3 µg/m3) and short-term (9 µg/m3) PM2.5 levels, respectively. These reductions in CRAE are equivalent to 7- and 3-year increases in age in the same cohort. Similarly, living near a major road was also associated with a −0.7 µm decrease (95% CI −1.4 to 0.1) in CRAE. Although the chronic association with CRAE was largely influenced by differences in exposure between cities, this relationship was generally robust to control for city-level covariates and no significant differences were observed between cities. Wider CRVE were associated with living in areas of higher PM2.5 concentrations, but these findings were less robust and not supported by the presence of consistent acute associations with PM2.5.
Residing in regions with higher air pollution concentrations and experiencing daily increases in air pollution were each associated with narrower retinal arteriolar diameters in older individuals. These findings support the hypothesis that important vascular phenomena are associated with small increases in short-term or long-term air pollution exposures, even at current exposure levels, and further corroborate reported associations between air pollution and the development and exacerbation of clinical cardiovascular disease.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—disease that affects the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a common cause of illness and death among adults in developed countries. In the United States, for example, the leading cause of death is coronary heart disease, a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's arteries by atherosclerotic plaques (fatty deposits that build up with age) slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Other types of CVD include stroke (in which atherosclerotic plaques interrupt the brain's blood supply) and peripheral arterial disease (in which the blood supply to the limbs is blocked). Smoking, high blood pressure, high blood levels of cholesterol (a type of fat), having diabetes, being overweight, and being physically inactive all increase a person's risk of developing CVD. Treatments for CVD include lifestyle changes and taking drugs that lower blood pressure or blood cholesterol levels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Another risk factor for CVD is exposure to long-term and/or short-term air pollution. Fine particle pollution or PM2.5 is particularly strongly associated with an increased risk of CVD. PM2.5—particulate matter 2.5 µm in diameter or 1/30th the diameter of a human hair—is mainly produced by motor vehicles, power plants, and other combustion sources. Why PM2.5 increases CVD risk is not clear but one possibility is that it alters the body's microvasculature (fine blood vessels known as capillaries, arterioles, and venules), thereby impairing the blood flow through the heart and brain. In this study, the researchers use noninvasive digital retinal photography to investigate whether there is an association between air pollution and changes in the human microvasculature. The retina—a light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye that converts images into electrical messages and sends them to the brain—has a dense microvasculature. Retinal photography is used to check the retinal microvasculature for signs of potentially blinding eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy. Previous studies have found that narrower than normal retinal arterioles and wider than normal retinal venules are associated with CVD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used digital retinal photography to measure the diameters of retinal blood vessels in the participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). This study is investigating CVD progression in people aged 45–84 years of various ethnic backgrounds who had no CVD symptoms when they enrolled in the study in 2000–2002. The researchers modeled the long-term outdoor concentration of PM2.5 at each participant's house for the 2-year period preceding the retinal examination (which was done between 2002 and 2003) using data on PM2.5 levels collected by regulatory monitoring stations as well as study-specific air samples collected outside of the homes and in the communities of study participants. Outdoor PM2.5 measurements taken the day before the examination provided short-term PM2.5 levels. Among the 4,607 MESA participants who had complete data, retinal arteriolar diameters were narrowed among those who lived in regions with increased long- and short-term PM2.5 levels. Specifically, an increase in long-term PM2.5 concentrations of 3 µg/m3 was associated with a 0.8 µm decrease in arteriolar diameter, a reduction equivalent to that seen for a 7-year increase in age in this group of people. Living near a major road, another indicator of long-term exposure to PM2.5 pollution, was also associated with narrowed arterioles. Finally, increased retinal venular diameters were weakly associated with long-term high PM2.5 concentrations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that living in areas with long-term air pollution or being exposed to short-term air pollution is associated with narrowing of the retinal arterioles in older individuals. They also show that widening of retinal venules is associated with long-term (but not short-term) PM2.5 pollution. Together, these findings support the hypothesis that long- and short-term air pollution increases CVD risk through effects on the microvasculature. However, they do not prove that PM2.5 is the constituent of air pollution that drives microvascular changes—these findings could reflect the toxicity of another pollutant or the pollution mixture as a whole. Importantly, these findings show that microvascular changes can occur at the PM2.5 levels that commonly occur in developed countries, which are well below those seen in developing countries. Worryingly, they also suggest that the deleterious cardiovascular effects of air pollution could occur at levels below existing regulatory standards.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000372.
The American Heart Association provides information for patients and caregivers on all aspects of cardiovascular disease (in several languages), including information on air pollution, heart disease, and stroke
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on heart disease and on stroke
Information is available from the British Heart Foundation on cardiovascular disease
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and caregivers about cardiovascular disease
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart disease and on vascular disease (in English and Spanish)
The AIRNow site provides information about US air quality and about air pollution and health
The Air Quality Archive has up-to-date information about air pollution in the UK and information about the health effects of air pollution
The US Environmental Protection Agency has information on PM2.5
The following Web sites contain information available on the MESA and MESA Air studies
PMCID: PMC2994677  PMID: 21152417
9.  Epigenetic Influences on Associations between Air Pollutants and Lung Function in Elderly Men: The Normative Aging Study 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2014;122(6):566-572.
Background: Few studies have been performed on pulmonary effects of air pollution in the elderly—a vulnerable population with low reserve capacity—and mechanisms and susceptibility factors for potential effects are unclear.
Objectives: We evaluated the lag structure of air pollutant associations with lung function and potential effect modification by DNA methylation (< or ≥ median) at 26 individual CpG sites in nine candidate genes in a well-characterized cohort of elderly men.
Methods: We measured forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1), and blood DNA methylation one to four times between 1999 and 2009 in 776 men from the Normative Aging Study. Air pollution was measured at fixed monitors 4 hr to 28 days before lung function tests. We used linear mixed-effects models to estimate the main effects of air pollutants and effect modification by DNA methylation.
Results: An interquartile range (IQR) increase in subchronic exposure (3 to 28 days cumulated), but not in acute exposure (during the previous 4 hr, or the current or previous day), to black carbon, total and nontraffic particles with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5), carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide was associated with a 1–5% decrease in FVC and FEV1 (p < 0.05). Slope estimates were greater for FVC than FEV1, and increased with cumulative exposure. The estimates slopes for air pollutants (28 days cumulated) were higher in participants with low (< median) methylation in TLR2 at position 2 and position 5 and high (≥ median) methylation in GCR.
Conclusions: Subchronic exposure to traffic-related pollutants was associated with significantly reduced lung function in the elderly; nontraffic pollutants (particles, ozone) had weaker associations. Epigenetic mechanisms related to inflammation and immunity may influence these associations.
Citation: Lepeule J, Bind MAC, Baccarelli AA, Koutrakis P, Tarantini L, Litonjua A, Sparrow D, Vokonas P, Schwartz JD. 2014. Epigenetic influences on associations between air pollutants and lung function in elderly men: the Normative Aging Study. Environ Health Perspect 122:566–572;
PMCID: PMC4050500  PMID: 24602767
10.  Short-Term Mortality Rates during a Decade of Improved Air Quality in Erfurt, Germany 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;117(3):448-454.
Numerous studies have shown associations between ambient air pollution and daily mortality.
Our goal was to investigate the association of ambient air pollution and daily mortality in Erfurt, Germany, over a 10.5-year period after the German unification, when air quality improved.
We obtained daily mortality counts and data on mass concentrations of particulate matter (PM) < 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10), gaseous pollutants, and meteorology in Erfurt between October 1991 and March 2002. We obtained ultrafine particle number concentrations (UFP) and mass concentrations of PM < 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) from September 1995 to March 2002. We analyzed the data using semiparametric Poisson regression models adjusting for trend, seasonality, influenza epidemics, day of the week, and meteorology. We evaluated cumulative associations between air pollution and mortality using polynomial distributed lag (PDL) models and multiday moving averages of air pollutants. We evaluated changes in the associations over time in time-varying coefficient models.
Air pollution concentrations decreased over the study period. Cumulative exposure to UFP was associated with increased mortality. An interquartile range (IQR) increase in the 15-day cumulative mean UFP of 7,649 cm−3 was associated with a relative risk (RR) of 1.060 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.008–1.114] for PDL models and an RR/IQR of 1.055 (95% CI, 1.011–1.101) for moving averages. RRs decreased from the mid-1990s to the late 1990s.
Results indicate an elevated mortality risk from short-term exposure to UFP. They further suggest that RRs for short-term associations of air pollution decreased as pollution control measures were implemented in Eastern Germany.
PMCID: PMC2661916  PMID: 19337521
accountability research; air pollution; improved air quality; mortality; particulate matter; ultrafine particles
11.  Season, Sex, Age, and Education as Modifiers of the Effects of Outdoor Air Pollution on Daily Mortality in Shanghai, China: The Public Health and Air Pollution in Asia (PAPA) Study 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;116(9):1183-1188.
Various factors can modify the health effects of outdoor air pollution. Prior findings about modifiers are inconsistent, and most of these studies were conducted in developed countries.
We conducted a time-series analysis to examine the modifying effect of season, sex, age, and education on the association between outdoor air pollutants [particulate matter < 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone] and daily mortality in Shanghai, China, using 4 years of daily data (2001–2004).
Using a natural spline model to analyze the data, we examined effects of air pollution for the warm season (April–September) and cool season (October–March) separately. For total mortality, we examined the association stratified by sex and age. Stratified analysis by educational attainment was conducted for total, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality.
Outdoor air pollution was associated with mortality from all causes and from cardiorespiratory diseases in Shanghai. An increase of 10 μg/m3 in a 2-day average concentration of PM10, SO2, NO2, and O3 corresponds to increases in all-cause mortality of 0.25% [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.14–0.37), 0.95% (95% CI, 0.62–1.28), 0.97% (95% CI, 0.66–1.27), and 0.31% (95% CI, 0.04–0.58), respectively. The effects of air pollutants were more evident in the cool season than in the warm season, and females and the elderly were more vulnerable to outdoor air pollution. Effects of air pollution were generally greater in residents with low educational attainment (illiterate or primary school) compared with those with high educational attainment (middle school or above).
Season, sex, age, and education may modify the health effects of outdoor air pollution in Shanghai. These findings provide new information about the effects of modifiers on the relationship between daily mortality and air pollution in developing countries and may have implications for local environmental and social policies.
PMCID: PMC2535620  PMID: 18795161
air pollution; modifiers; mortality; time-series studies
12.  Short term fluctuations in air pollution and hospital admissions of the elderly for respiratory disease. 
Thorax  1995;50(5):531-538.
BACKGROUND--Several recent studies have reported associations between short term changes in air pollution and respiratory hospital admissions. This relationship was examined in two cities with substantially different levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) but similar levels of airborne particles in an attempt to separate the effects of the two pollutants. Significant differences in weather between the two cities allowed the evaluation of that potential confounder also. METHODS--Daily counts of admissions to all hospitals for respiratory disease (ICD 9 460-519) were constructed for persons aged 65 years and older in two cities - New Haven, Connecticut and Tacoma, Washington. Each city was analysed separately. Average daily concentrations of SO2, inhalable particles (PM10), and ozone were computed from all monitors in each city, and daily average temperature and humidity were obtained from the US weather service. Daily respiratory admission counts were regressed on temperature, humidity, day of the week indicators, and air pollution. A 19 day weighted moving regression filter was used to remove all seasonal and subseasonal patterns from the data. Possible U-shaped dependence of admissions on temperature was dealt with using indicator variables for eight categories each of temperature and humidity. Each pollutant was first examined individually and then multiple pollutant models were fitted. RESULTS--All three pollutants were associated with respiratory hospital admissions of the elderly. The PM10 associations were little changed by control for either ozone or SO2. The ozone association was likewise independent of the other pollutants. The SO2 association was substantially attenuated by control for ozone in both cities, and by control for PM10 in Tacoma. The magnitude of the effect was small (relative risk 1.06 in New Haven and 1.10 in Tacoma for a 50 micrograms/m3 increase in PM10, for example) but, given the ubiquitous exposure, this has some public health significance. CONCLUSIONS--Air pollution concentrations within current guidelines were associated with increased respiratory hospital admissions of the elderly. The strongest evidence for an independent association was for PM10, followed by ozone. These results are consistent with other studies and suggest that lowering air pollution concentrations would have some impact on public health.
PMCID: PMC1021224  PMID: 7597667
13.  Acute respiratory effects of particles: mass or number? 
OBJECTIVES—To determine whether associations might be found, in patients with chronic airflow obstruction, between symptoms, peak flow rate (PEF), and particle mass and numbers, and to assess which measure was most closely associated with changes in health. Epidemiological studies have shown associations between particulate air pollution and cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and it has been proposed that these may be mediated by particles of nm size (ultrafine).
METHODS—Relations were investigated between symptom scores, PEF, and bronchodilator use in 44 patients aged ⩾50 years with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and daily measurements of both mass of ambient particles of aerodynamic diameter less than 10 µm (PM10) and numbers of ultrafine particles (<100 nm), allowing for meteorological variables. Symptom scores, bronchodilator use, and PEF were recorded daily for 3 months. Counts of ultrafine particles were made by the TSI model 3934 scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) and PM10 measurements by the tapered element oscillating microbalance (TEOM).
RESULTS—Ultrafine particle counts indoors and outdoors were significantly correlated, those indoors being about half of those outdoors. No associations were found between actual PEF and PM10 or ultrafine particles. However, there was a 19% increase in the rate of 10% decrements in daytime PEF with increases in PM10 from 10 to 20 µg/m3 which was of borderline significance (p=0.05). A change in PM10 from 10 to 20 µg/m3 was significantly associated with a 14% increase in the rate of high scores of shortness of breath (p=0.003). A similar change in PM10 as a moving average of the same day and 2 previous days was associated with a 31% increase in the rate of high scores for cough (p=0.02). Cough symptoms were also associated with lower temperatures (p=0.02). Higher use of medicines was also associated with higher PM10, but the increases were very small in clinical terms.
CONCLUSIONS—Evidence was not found to support the hypothesis that the component of particulate pollution responsible for effects on respiratory symptoms or function resides in the fraction below 100 nm diameter. The consistent associations between symptoms and PM10 suggest that a contribution of the coarser fraction should not be dismissed. Further studies will be needed before the conclusions of this specific project may be generalised.

Keywords: air pollution; ultrafine particles; chronic obstructive lung disease
PMCID: PMC1740106  PMID: 11171927
14.  Acute Effects of Air Pollution on Pulmonary Function, Airway Inflammation, and Oxidative Stress in Asthmatic Children 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;117(4):668-674.
Air pollution is associated with respiratory symptoms, lung function decrements, and hospitalizations. However, there is little information about the influence of air pollution on lung injury.
In this study we investigated acute effects of air pollution on pulmonary function and airway oxidative stress and inflammation in asthmatic children.
We studied 182 children with asthma, 9–14 years of age, for 4 weeks. Daily ambient concentrations of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) were monitored from two stations. Once a week we measured spirometry and fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), and determined thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and 8-isoprostane—two oxidative stress markers—and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in breath condensate. We tested associations using mixed-effects regression models, adjusting for confounding variables.
Interquartile-range increases in 3-day average SO2 (5.4 ppb), NO2 (6.8 ppb), and PM2.5 (5.4 μg/m3) were associated with decreases in forced expiratory flow between 25% and 75% of forced vital capacity, with changes being −3.1% [95% confidence interval (CI), −5.8 to −0.3], −2.8% (95% CI, −4.8 to −0.8), and −3.0% (95% CI, −4.7 to −1.2), respectively. SO2, NO2, and PM2.5 were associated with increases in TBARS, with changes being 36.2% (95% CI, 15.7 to 57.2), 21.8% (95% CI, 8.2 to 36.0), and 24.8% (95% CI, 10.8 to 39.4), respectively. Risk estimates appear to be larger in children not taking corticosteroids than in children taking corticosteroids. O3 (5.3 ppb) was not associated with health end points. FeNO, 8-isoprostane, and IL-6 were not associated with air pollutants.
Air pollution may increase airway oxidative stress and decrease small airway function of asthmatic children. Inhaled corticosteroids may reduce oxidative stress and improve airway function.
PMCID: PMC2679614  PMID: 19440509
air pollution; asthma; children; exhaled breath condensate; inflammation; oxidative stress; pulmonary function
15.  Air Pollution and Mortality in Chile: Susceptibility among the Elderly 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2007;115(4):524-527.
The estimated mortality rate associated with ambient air pollution based on general population studies may not be representative of the effects on certain subgroups. The objective of the present study was to determine the influence of relatively high concentrations of air pollution on mortality in a general population sample and in the very elderly.
Study design
Daily time-series analyses tested the association between daily air pollution and daily mortality in seven Chilean urban centers during 1997–2003. Results were adjusted for day of the week and humidex.
Daily averaged particulate matter with aerodynamic matter < 10 μm (PM10) was 84.88 μg/m3, sulfur dioxide was 14.08ppb, and carbon monoxide was 1.29 ppb. The 1-hr maximum ozone was 100.13 ppb. The percentage increases in nonaccidental mortality associated with an increase in PM10 equivalent to its mean were 4.53 (t-ratio 1.52) for those < 65 years and 14.03 (3.87) for those > 85 years. Respective values were 4.96 (1.17) and 8.56 (2.02) for O3; 4.77 (2.50) and 7.92 (3.23) for SO2; and 4.10 (2.52) and 8.58 (4.45) for CO.
Our results suggest that the very elderly are particularly susceptible to dying from air pollution. Concentrations deemed acceptable for the general population may not adequately protect the very elderly.
PMCID: PMC1852651  PMID: 17450219
air pollution; elderly; environment; epidemiology; mortality
16.  What can individuals do to reduce personal health risks from air pollution? 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2015;7(1):96-107.
In many areas of the world, concentrations of ambient air pollutants exceed levels associated with increased risk of acute and chronic health problems. While effective policies to reduce emissions at their sources are clearly preferable, some evidence supports the effectiveness of individual actions to reduce exposure and health risks. Personal exposure to ambient air pollution can be reduced on high air pollution days by staying indoors, reducing outdoor air infiltration to indoors, cleaning indoor air with air filters, and limiting physical exertion, especially outdoors and near air pollution sources. Limited evidence suggests that the use of respirators may be effective in some circumstances. Awareness of air pollution levels is facilitated by a growing number of public air quality alert systems. Avoiding exposure to air pollutants is especially important for susceptible individuals with chronic cardiovascular or pulmonary disease, children, and the elderly. Research on mechanisms underlying the adverse health effects of air pollution have suggested potential pharmaceutical or chemopreventive interventions, such as antioxidant or antithrombotic agents, but in the absence of data on health outcomes, no sound recommendations can be made for primary prevention. Health care providers and their patients should carefully consider individual circumstances related to outdoor and indoor air pollutant exposure levels and susceptibility to those air pollutants when deciding on a course of action to reduce personal exposure and health risks from ambient air pollutants. Careful consideration is especially warranted when interventions may have unintended negative consequences, such as when efforts to avoid exposure to air pollutants lead to reduced physical activity or when there is evidence that dietary supplements, such as antioxidants, have potential adverse health effects. These potential complications of partially effective personal interventions to reduce exposure or risk highlight the primary importance of reducing emissions of air pollutants at their sources.
PMCID: PMC4311076
Air pollution; prevention; cardiovascular disease; pulmonary disease; behavior
17.  Associations between daily mortalities from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and air pollution in Hong Kong, China 
Wong, T | Tam, W | Yu, T | Wong, A
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.
PMCID: PMC1740206  PMID: 11836466
18.  Air pollution and daily mortality in Seoul and Ulsan, Korea. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1999;107(2):149-154.
The relationship between air pollution and daily mortality for the period 1991-1995 was examined in two Korean cities, Seoul and Ulsan. The observed concentrations of sulfur dioxide (SO2; mean = 28.7 ppb), ozone (O3; mean = 29.2 ppb), and total suspended particulates (TSP; mean = 82.3 microg/m3) during the study period were at levels below Korea's current ambient air quality standards. Daily death counts were regressed separately in the two cities, using Poisson regression on SO2, O3, and/or TSP controlling for variability in the weather and seasons. When considered singly in Poisson regression models controlling for seasonal variations and weather conditions, the nonaccidental mortality associated with a 50-ppb increment in a 3-day moving average of SO2 concentrations, including the concurrent day and the preceding 2 days, was 1.078 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.057-1.099] for Seoul and 1.051 (CI, 0.991-1.115) for Ulsan. The rate ratio was 1.051 (CI, 1.031-1.072) in Seoul and 0.999 (CI, 0. 961-1.039) in Ulsan per 100 microg/m3 for TSP, and 1.015 (CI, 1. 005-1.025) in Seoul and 1.020 (0.889-1.170) in Ulsan per 50 ppb for 1-hr maximum O3. When TSP was considered simultaneously with other pollutants, the TSP association was no longer significant. We observed independent pollution effects on daily mortality even after using various approaches to control for either weather or seasonal variables in the regression model. This study demonstrated increased mortality associated with air pollution at both SO2 and O3 levels below the current World Health Organization recommendations.
PMCID: PMC1566318  PMID: 9924011
19.  Baseline Repeated Measures from Controlled Human Exposure Studies: Associations between Ambient Air Pollution Exposure and the Systemic Inflammatory Biomarkers IL-6 and Fibrinogen 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2009;118(1):120-124.
Systemic inflammation may be one of the mechanisms mediating the association between ambient air pollution and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and fibrinogen are biomarkers of systemic inflammation that are independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
We investigated the association between ambient air pollution and systemic inflammation using baseline measurements of IL-6 and fibrinogen from controlled human exposure studies.
In this retrospective analysis we used repeated-measures data in 45 nonsmoking subjects. Hourly and daily moving averages were calculated for ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5). Linear mixed-model regression determined the effects of the pollutants on systemic IL-6 and fibrinogen. Effect modification by season was considered.
We observed a positive association between IL-6 and O3 [0.31 SD per O3 interquartile range (IQR); 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.08–0.54] and between IL-6 and SO2 (0.25 SD per SO2 IQR; 95% CI, 0.06–0.43). We observed the strongest effects using 4-day moving averages. Responses to pollutants varied by season and tended to be higher in the summer, particularly for O3 and PM2.5. Fibrinogen was not associated with pollution.
This study demonstrates a significant association between ambient pollutant levels and baseline levels of systemic IL-6. These findings have potential implications for controlled human exposure studies. Future research should consider whether ambient pollution exposure before chamber exposure modifies IL-6 response.
PMCID: PMC2831955  PMID: 20056584
air pollution; epidemiology; fibrinogen; inflammation; interleukin-6
20.  Gender Differences and Effect of Air Pollution on Asthma in Children with and without Allergic Predisposition: Northeast Chinese Children Health Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22470.
Males and females exhibit different health responses to air pollution, but little is known about how exposure to air pollution affects juvenile respiratory health after analysis stratified by allergic predisposition. The aim of the present study was to assess the relationship between air pollutants and asthmatic symptoms in Chinese children selected from multiple sites in a heavily industrialized province of China, and investigate whether allergic predisposition modifies this relationship.
Methodology/Principal Findings
30139 Chinese children aged 3-to-12 years were selected from 25 districts of seven cities in northeast China in 2009. Information on respiratory health was obtained using a standard questionnaire from the American Thoracic Society. Routine air-pollution monitoring data was used for particles with an aerodynamic diameter ≤10 µm (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxides (NO2), ozone (O3) and carbon monoxide (CO). A two-stage regression approach was applied in data analyses. The effect estimates were presented as odds ratios (ORs) per interquartile changes for PM10, SO2, NO2, O3, and CO. The results showed that children with allergic predisposition were more susceptible to air pollutants than children without allergic predisposition. Amongst children without an allergic predisposition, air pollution effects on asthma were stronger in males compared to females; Current asthma prevalence was related to PM10 (ORs = 1.36 per 31 µg/m3; 95% CI, 1.08–1.72), SO2 (ORs = 1.38 per 21 µg/m3; 95%CI, 1.12–1.69) only among males. However, among children with allergic predisposition, more positively associations between air pollutants and respiratory symptoms and diseases were detected in females; An increased prevalence of doctor-diagnosed asthma was significantly associated with SO2 (ORs = 1.48 per 21 µg/m3; 95%CI, 1.21–1.80), NO2 (ORs = 1.26 per 10 µg/m3; 95%CI, 1.01–1.56), and current asthma with O3 (ORs = 1.55 per 23 µg/m3; 95%CI, 1.18–2.04) only among females.
Ambient air pollutions were more evident in males without an allergic predisposition and more associations were detected in females with allergic predisposition.
PMCID: PMC3139656  PMID: 21811617
21.  Reanalysis of the effects of air pollution on daily mortality in Seoul, Korea: A case-crossover design. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1999;107(8):633-636.
We used the case-crossover design to identify any increase in mortality in Seoul, Korea, when there were higher levels of ambient air pollution on case-days than would be expected solely as a result of chance. This empirical study showed that either unidirectional retrospective (selecting only control days prior to death) or prospective (selecting only control days after death) control sampling could cause risk estimates to be confounded by seasonal waves as well as time trends in air pollution levels. In bidirectional control sampling in which exposures at death were compared with exposures both before and after death, the estimated mortality was resistant to confounding by time patterns of air pollution. Using a bidirectional control sampling approach, the results from a conditional logistic regression model controlling for weather conditions showed that the nonaccidental mortality associated with a 50-ppb increment over a 3-day moving average of SO(2) concentrations, including the concurrent day and preceding 2 days, was 1.023 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.016-1.084]. The relative risk of death was 1.023 (CI, 0.999-1.048) per 50 ppb for 1-hr maximum O(3) and 1.010 (CI, 0.988-1.032) per 100 microg/m(3 )or total suspended particulates. In conclusion, the findings of this study were 2-fold: given the consistency of the observed association between SO(2) and daily mortality across different analysis methods, the association reported here indicates that air pollution is a probable contributor to premature death; and bidirectional control sampling is needed in a case-crossover design applied to air pollution epidemiologic studies to control confounding by seasonal patterns of air pollution as well as time trends.
PMCID: PMC1566500  PMID: 10417360
22.  Air pollution and asthma severity in adults 
There is evidence that exposure to air pollution affects asthma, but the effect of air pollution on asthma severity has not been addressed. The aim was to assess the relation between asthma severity during the past 12 months and home outdoor concentrations of air pollution.
Asthma severity over the last 12 months was assessed in two complementary ways among 328 adult asthmatics from the French Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA) examined between 1991 and 1995. The 4-class severity score integrated clinical events and type of treatment. The 5-level asthma score is based only on the occurrence of symptoms. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3) concentrations were assigned to each residence using two different methods. The first was based on the closest monitor data from 1991–1995. The second consisted in spatial models that used geostatistical interpolations and then assigned air pollutants to the geo-coded residences (1998).
Higher asthma severity score was significantly related to the 8-hour average of ozone during April-September (O3-8hr) and the number of days (O3-days) with 8-hour ozone averages above 110 μg.m−3 (for a 36-day increase, equivalent to the inter quartile range, in O3-days, odds ratio (95% confidence interval) 2.22 (1.61–3.07) for one class difference in score). Adjustment for age, sex, smoking habits, occupational exposure, and educational level did not alter results. Asthma severity was unrelated to NO2. Both exposure assessment methods and severity scores resulted in very similar findings. SO2 correlated with severity but reached statistical significance only for the model based assignment of exposure.
The observed associations between asthma severity and air pollution, in particular O3, support the hypothesis that air pollution at levels far below current standards increases asthma severity.
PMCID: PMC2663354  PMID: 19017701
air pollution; asthma severity; ozone
23.  Association of asthma symptoms with peak particulate air pollution and effect modification by anti-inflammatory medication use. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2002;110(10):A607-A617.
Maxima of hourly data from outdoor monitors may capture adverse effects of outdoor particulate matter (PM) exposures in asthmatic children better than do 24-hr PM averages, which form the basis of current regulations in the United States. Also, asthmatic children on anti-inflammatory medications may be protected against the proinflammatory effects of air pollutants and aeroallergens. We examined strengths of pollutant associations with asthma symptoms between subgroups of asthmatic children who were on versus not on regularly scheduled anti-inflammatory medications, and tested associations for different particle averaging times. This is a daily panel study of 22 asthmatic children (9-19 years of age) followed March through April 1996 (1,248 person-days). They lived in nonsmoking households in a semirural area of Southern California within the air inversion mixing zone (range, 1,200-2,100 feet) with transported air pollution from urban areas of Southern California. The dependent variable derived from diary ordinal scores is episodes of asthma symptoms that interfered with daily activities. Minimum to 90th-percentile levels of exposures at the outdoor monitoring site were 12-63 microg/m(3) for 1-hr PM < 10 microm in aerodynamic diameter (PM(10)); 8-46 microg/m(3) for 8-hr PM(10); 7-32 microg/m(3) for 24-hr PM(10); 45-88 ppb for 1-hr O(3); 6-26 ppb for 8-hr NO(2); 70-4,714 particles/m(3) for 12-hr daytime fungi; and 12-744 particles/m(3) for 24-hr pollen. Data were analyzed with generalized estimating equations controlling for autocorrelation. There was no confounding by weather, day of week, or linear time trend. Associations were notably stronger in 12 asthmatic children who were not taking anti-inflammatory medications versus 10 subjects who were. Odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for asthma episodes in relation to lag 0 minimum to 90th-percentile pollutant changes were, respectively, 1-hr maximum PM(10), 1.92 (1.22-3.02) versus 0.96 (0.25-3.69); 8-hr maximum PM(10), 1.68 (0.91-3.09) versus 0.75 (0.18-3.04); 24-hr average PM(10), 1.35 (0.82-2.22) versus 0.80 (0.24-2.69); 1-hr maximum O(3), 1.28 (0.75-2.17) versus 0.76 (0.24-2.44); 8-hr maximum NO(2), 1.91 (1.07-3.39) versus 1.08 (0.30-3.93); 12-hr fungi, 1.89 (1.24-2.89) versus 0.90 (0.35-2.30); 24-hr pollen, 1.90 (0.99-3.67) versus 0.85 (0.18-3.91). Pollutant associations were stronger during respiratory infections in subjects not on anti-inflammatory medications. Although lag 0 1-hr maximum PM(10) showed the strongest association, the most robust associations were for lag 0 and 3-day moving averages (lags 0-2) of 8-hr maximum and 24-hr mean PM(10) in sensitivity analyses testing for thresholds. Most pollutant effects were largely driven by concentrations in the upper quintile. The divergence of exposure-response relationships by anti-inflammatory medication use is consistent with experimental data on inflammatory mechanisms of airborne pollutants and allergens.
PMCID: PMC1241047  PMID: 12361942
24.  Traffic-Related Air Pollution and QT Interval: Modification by Diabetes, Obesity, and Oxidative Stress Gene Polymorphisms in the Normative Aging Study 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;118(6):840-846.
Acute exposure to ambient air pollution has been associated with acute changes in cardiac outcomes, often within hours of exposure.
We examined the effects of air pollutants on heart-rate–corrected QT interval (QTc), an electrocardiographic marker of ventricular repolarization, and whether these associations were modified by participant characteristics and genetic polymorphisms related to oxidative stress.
We studied repeated measurements of QTc on 580 men from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study (NAS) using mixed-effects models with random intercepts. We fitted a quadratic constrained distributed lag model to estimate the cumulative effect on QTc of ambient air pollutants including fine particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), black carbon (BC), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) concentrations during the 10 hr before the visit. We genotyped polymorphisms related to oxidative stress and analyzed pollution–susceptibility score interactions using the genetic susceptibility score (GSS) method.
Ambient traffic pollutant concentrations were related to longer QTc. An interquartile range (IQR) change in BC cumulative during the 10 hr before the visit was associated with increased QTc [1.89 msec change; 95% confidence interval (CI), −0.16 to 3.93]. We found a similar association with QTc for an IQR change in 1-hr BC that occurred 4 hr before the visit (2.54 msec change; 95% CI, 0.28–4.80). We found increased QTc for IQR changes in NO2 and CO, but the change was statistically insignificant. In contrast, we found no association between QTc and PM2.5, SO2, and O3. The association between QTc and BC was stronger among participants who were obese, who had diabetes, who were nonsmokers, or who had higher GSSs.
Traffic-related pollutants may increase QTc among persons with diabetes, persons who are obese, and nonsmoking elderly individuals; the number of genetic variants related to oxidative stress increases this effect.
PMCID: PMC2898862  PMID: 20194081
air pollution; diabetes; distributed lags; genes; obesity; oxidative stress; QT interval; smoking; traffic
25.  Air pollution and daily mortality in Inchon, Korea. 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  1999;14(3):239-244.
The association between total daily mortality and air pollution was investigated for a 1-year period (January 1995 to December 1995) in Inchon, Korea. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relative importance of particulate and gaseous air pollution as predictors of daily mortality. Concentration of total suspended particulates (TSP), inhalable particles (PM10), and gaseous pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, were measured daily during the study period. A generalized additive model was used to regress daily death counts on each air pollutant, controlling for time trend and meteorologic influences such as temperature or relative humidity. Total mortality was found to increase 1.2% (95% CI: 0.2 to 2.2%) for each 10 microg/m3 increase in 6-day moving average of TSP, and 1.2% (95% CI 0.2 to 2.1%) for each 10 microg/m3 increase in 5-day moving average of PM10. The association is similar in magnitude to associations between particulate air pollution and mortality found in several other communities in America and Europe. Associations with gaseous pollutants were all statistically insignificant in the generalized additive model. The relative risk of death increased at particulate levels that were well below the current Korean Ambient Air Quality Standard.
PMCID: PMC3054386  PMID: 10402164

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