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1.  Ozone and cardiovascular injury 
Air pollution is increasingly recognized as an important and modifiable determinant of cardiovascular diseases in urban communities. The potential detrimental effects are both acute and chronic having a strong impact on morbidity and mortality. The acute exposure to pollutants has been linked to adverse cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction, heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias. The long-terms effects are related to the lifetime risk of death from cardiac causes. The WHO estimates that air pollution is responsible for 3 million premature deaths each year. The evidence supporting these data is very strong nonetheless, epidemiologic and observational data have the main limitation of imprecise measurements. Moreover, the lack of clinical experimental models makes it difficult to demonstrate the individual risk. The other limitation is related to the lack of a clear mechanism explaining the effects of pollution on cardiovascular mortality. In the present review we will explore the epidemiological, clinical and experimental evidence of the effects of ozone on cardiovascular diseases.
The pathophysiologic consequences of air pollutant exposures have been extensively investigated in pulmonary systems, and it is clear that some of the major components of air pollution (e.g. ozone and particulate matter) can initiate and exacerbate lung disease in humans [1]. It is possible that pulmonary oxidant stress mediated by particulate matter and/or ozone (O3) exposure can result in downstream perturbations in the cardiovasculature, as the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems are intricately associated, and it is well documented that specific environmental toxins (such as tobacco smoke [2]) introduced through the lungs can initiate and/or accelerate cardiovascular disease development. Indeed, several epidemiologic studies have proved that there is an association between PM and O3 and the increased incidence of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality [3]. Most of the evidence comes from studies of ambient particles concentrations. However, in Europe and elsewhere, the air pollution profile has gradually changed toward a more pronounced photochemical component. Ozone is one of the most toxic components of the photochemical air pollution mixture. Indeed, the biological basis for these observations has not been elucidated.
In the present review, the role of ozone as chemical molecule will be firstly considered. Secondly, pathogenetic mechanisms connecting the atmospheric ozone level and cardiovascular pathology will be examined. Thirdly, the literature relating hospitalization frequency, morbidity and mortality due to cardiovascular causes and ozone concentration will be studied. The correlation between ozone level and occurrence of acute myocardial infarction will be eventually discussed.
PMCID: PMC2706799  PMID: 19552797
2.  Modifiers of short-term effects of ozone on mortality in eastern Massachusetts - A case-crossover analysis at individual level 
Substantial epidemiological studies demonstrate associations between exposure to ambient ozone and mortality. A few studies simply examine the modification of this ozone effect by individual characteristics and socioeconomic status, but socioeconomic status was usually coded at the city level.
This study used a case-crossover design to examine whether impacts of ozone on mortality were modified by socioeconomic status coded at the tract or characteristics at an individual level in eastern Massachusetts, US for a period May-September, 1995-2002, with a total of 157,197 non-accident deaths aging 35 years or older. We used moving averages of maximal 8-hour concentrations of ozone monitored at 8 stationary stations as personal exposure.
A 10 ppb increase in the four-day moving average of maximal 8-hour ozone was associated with 1.68% (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.51%, 2.87%), 1.96% (95% CI: -1.83%, 5.90%), 8.28% (95% CI: 0.66%, 16.48%), 0.44% (95% CI: -1.45%, 2.37%), -0.83% (95% CI: -2.94%, 1.32%), -1.09% (95% CI: -4.27%, 2.19%) and 6.5% (95% CI: 1.74%, 11.49%) changes in all natural deaths, respiratory disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, heart diseases, acute myocardial infarction and stroke, respectively. We did not find any evidence that the associations were significantly modified by socioeconomic status or individual characteristics although small differences of estimates across subpopulations were demonstrated.
Exposure to ozone was associated with specific cause mortality in Eastern Massachusetts during May-September, 1995-2002. There was no evidence that effects of ozone on mortality were significantly modified by socioeconomic status and individual characteristics.
PMCID: PMC2825215  PMID: 20092648
3.  Air pollution and emergency department visits for cardiac and respiratory conditions: a multi-city time-series analysis 
Environmental Health  2009;8:25.
Relatively few studies have been conducted of the association between air pollution and emergency department (ED) visits, and most of these have been based on a small number of visits, for a limited number of health conditions and pollutants, and only daily measures of exposure and response.
A time-series analysis was conducted on nearly 400,000 ED visits to 14 hospitals in seven Canadian cities during the 1990s and early 2000s. Associations were examined between carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), and visits for angina/myocardial infarction, heart failure, dysrhythmia/conduction disturbance, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and respiratory infections. Daily and 3-hourly visit counts were modeled as quasi-Poisson and analyses controlled for effects of temporal cycles, weather, day of week and holidays.
24-hour average concentrations of CO and NO2 lag 0 days exhibited the most consistent associations with cardiac conditions (2.1% (95% CI, 0.0–4.2%) and 2.6% (95% CI, 0.2–5.0%) increase in visits for myocardial infarction/angina per 0.7 ppm CO and 18.4 ppb NO2 respectively; 3.8% (95% CI, 0.7–6.9%) and 4.7% (95% CI, 1.2–8.4%) increase in visits for heart failure). Ozone (lag 2 days) was most consistently associated with respiratory visits (3.2% (95% CI, 0.3–6.2%), and 3.7% (95% CI, -0.5–7.9%) increases in asthma and COPD visits respectively per 18.4 ppb). Associations tended to be of greater magnitude during the warm season (April – September). In particular, the associations of PM10 and PM2.5with asthma visits were respectively nearly three- and over fourfold larger vs. all year analyses (14.4% increase in visits, 95% CI, 0.2–30.7, per 20.6 μg/m3 PM10 and 7.6% increase in visits, 95% CI, 5.1–10.1, per 8.2 μg/m3 PM2.5). No consistent associations were observed between three hour average pollutant concentrations and same-day three hour averages of ED visits.
In this large multicenter analysis, daily average concentrations of CO and NO2 exhibited the most consistent associations with ED visits for cardiac conditions, while ozone exhibited the most consistent associations with visits for respiratory conditions. PM10 and PM2.5 were strongly associated with asthma visits during the warm season.
PMCID: PMC2703622  PMID: 19515235
4.  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
5.  Long-term residence in areas of high ozone: associations with respiratory health in a nationwide sample of nonsmoking young adults [dsee comments] 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1999;107(8):675-679.
Few studies have examined the respiratory effects of multiyear ozone exposures in human populations. We examined associations between current respiratory health status and long-term ozone exposure histories in 520 Yale College (New Haven, CT) students who never smoked. Questionnaires addressed current respiratory symptoms, respiratory disease history, residential history, and other factors. The symptoms of cough, phlegm, wheeze apart from colds, and a composite respiratory symptom index (RSI) were selected as outcome measures. Forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV(1)), forced expiratory flow rate between 25 and 75% of FVC (FEF(25-75)), and forced expiratory flow rate at 75% of FVC (FEF(75)) were obtained by forced expiration into spirometers. Ozone exposure was treated as a dichotomous variable, where subjects were assigned to the high-exposure group if they lived for 4 or more years in a U.S. county with 10-year average summer-season daily 1-hr maximum ozone levels [greater/equal to] 80 ppb. Lung function and respiratory symptoms were analyzed by multiple linear and logistic regression on ozone exposure, controlling for covariates. Lung function was lower in the group with high ozone exposures: differences were statistically significant for FEV(1) [-3.1%; 95% confidence interval (CI), -0.2 to -5.9%] and FEF(25-75) (-8.1%; CI, -2.3 to -13.9%), and nearly so for FEF(75) (-6.7%; CI, 1.4 to -14.8). Gender-specific analyses revealed stronger associations for males than for females. The symptoms of chronic phlegm, wheeze apart from colds, and RSI were increased in the ozone-exposed group, with odds ratios of 1.79 (CI, 0.83-3.82), 1.97 (CI, 1.06-3.66), and 2.00 (CI, 1.15-3.46), respectively. We conclude that living for 4 or more years in regions of the country with high levels of ozone and related copollutants is associated with diminished lung function and more frequent reports of respiratory symptoms.
PMCID: PMC1566506  PMID: 10417367
6.  Assessing the Influence of Indoor Exposure to “Outdoor Ozone” on the Relationship between Ozone and Short-term Mortality in U.S. Communities 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;120(2):235-240.
Background: City-to-city differences have been reported for the increase in short-term mortality associated with a given increase in ozone concentration (ozone mortality coefficient). Although ozone concentrations are monitored at central outdoor locations, a large fraction of total ozone exposure occurs indoors.
Objectives: To clarify the influence of indoor exposure to ozone of outdoor origin on short-term mortality, we conducted an analysis to determine whether variation in ozone mortality coefficients among U.S. cities might be partly explained by differences in total ozone exposure (from both outdoor and indoor exposures) resulting from the same outdoor ozone concentration.
Methods: We estimated average annual air change rates (the overall rate at which indoor air is replaced with outdoor air) and used these to estimate the change in total ozone exposure per unit change in outdoor ozone exposure (ozone exposure coefficient) for 18 cities that had been included in the National Morbidity and Mortality Air Pollution Study (NMMAPS). We then examined associations between both parameters and published ozone mortality coefficients.
Results: For the 18 targeted NMMAPS cities, the association between ozone mortality coefficients and ozone exposure coefficients was strong (1-hr ozone metric: R2 = 0.58, p < 0.001; 8-hr ozone: R2 = 0.56, p < 0.001; 24-hr ozone: R2 = 0.48, p = 0.001). When extended to another 72 NMMAPS cities, the associations remained strong (R2 = 0.47–0.63; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Differences in ozone mortality coefficients among cities appear to partially reflect differences in total ozone exposure resulting from differences in the amount of outdoor ozone that is transported indoors.
PMCID: PMC3279450  PMID: 22100611
air change rate; air conditioning; infiltration rate; outdoor-to-indoor transport; ozone-derived products; total exposure
7.  Particulate Air Pollution, Progression, and Survival after Myocardial Infarction 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2007;115(5):769-775.
Several studies have examined the effect of particulate pollution (PM) on survival in general populations, but less is known about susceptible groups. Moreover, previous cohort studies have been cross-sectional and subject to confounding by uncontrolled differences between cities.
We investigated whether PM was associated with progression of disease or reduced survival in a study of 196,000 persons from 21 U.S. cities discharged alive following an acute myocardial infarction (MI), using within-city between-year exposure to PM. We constructed city-specific cohorts of survivors of acute MI using Medicare data between 1985 and 1999, and defined three outcomes on follow-up: death, subsequent MI, and a first admission for congestive heart failure (CHF). Yearly averages of PM10 (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter < 10 μm) were merged to the individual annual follow-up in each city. We applied Cox’s proportional hazard regression model in each city, with adjustment for individual risk factors. In the second stage of the analysis, the city-specific results were combined using a meta-regression.
We found significant associations with a hazard ratio for the sum of the distributed lags of 1.3 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.2–1.5] for mortality, a hazard ratio of 1.4 (95% CI, 1.2–1.7) for a hospitalization for CHF, and a hazard ratio of 1.4 (95% CI, 1.1–1.8) for a new hospitalization for MI per 10 μg/m3 PM10.
This is the first long-term study showing a significant association between particle exposure and adverse post-MI outcomes in persons who survived an MI.
PMCID: PMC1867961  PMID: 17520066
air pollution; epidemiology; heart diseases; myocardial infarction; survival
8.  Vascular and Cardiac Impairments in Rats Inhaling Ozone and Diesel Exhaust Particles 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;119(3):312-318.
Mechanisms of cardiovascular injuries from exposure to gas and particulate air pollutants are unknown.
We sought to determine whether episodic exposure of rats to ozone or diesel exhaust particles (DEP) causes differential cardiovascular impairments that are exacerbated by ozone plus DEP.
Methods and results
Male Wistar Kyoto rats (10–12 weeks of age) were exposed to air, ozone (0.4 ppm), DEP (2.1 mg/m3), or ozone (0.38 ppm) + DEP (2.2 mg/m3) for 5 hr/day, 1 day/week for 16 weeks, or to air, ozone (0.51 or 1.0 ppm), or DEP (1.9 mg/m3) for 5 hr/day for 2 days. At the end of each exposure period, we examined pulmonary and cardiovascular biomarkers of injury. In the 16-week study, we observed mild pulmonary pathology in the ozone, DEP, and ozone + DEP exposure groups, a slight decrease in circulating lymphocytes in the ozone and DEP groups, and decreased platelets in the DEP group. After 16 weeks of exposure, mRNA biomarkers of oxidative stress (hemeoxygenase-1), thrombosis (tissue factor, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, tissue plasminogen activator, and von Willebrand factor), vasoconstriction (endothelin-1, endothelin receptors A and B, endothelial NO synthase) and proteolysis [matrix metalloprotease (MMP)-2, MMP-3, and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloprotease-2] were increased by DEP and/or ozone in the aorta, but not in the heart. Aortic LOX-1 (lectin-like oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor-1) mRNA and protein increased after ozone exposure, and LOX-1 protein increased after exposure to ozone + DEP. RAGE (receptor for advanced glycation end products) mRNA increased in the ozone + DEP group. Exposure to ozone or DEP depleted cardiac mitochondrial phospholipid fatty acids (DEP > ozone). The combined effect of ozone and DEP exposure was less pronounced than exposure to either pollutant alone. Exposure to ozone or DEP for 2 days (acute) caused mild changes in the aorta.
In animals exposed to ozone or DEP alone for 16 weeks, we observed elevated biomarkers of vascular impairments in the aorta, with the loss of phospholipid fatty acids in myocardial mitochondria. We conclude that there is a possible role of oxidized lipids and protein through LOX-1 and/or RAGE signaling.
PMCID: PMC3059992  PMID: 20980218
air pollution; aorta; cardiovascular; diesel exhaust particles; inhalation; LOX-1; ozone; vascular
9.  Air pollution and mortality in Barcelona. 
STUDY OBJECTIVES: Studies conducted in Barcelona reported a short term relation between daily air pollutant values and emergency department admissions for exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and asthma. Air pollution in Barcelona is mainly generated by vehicle exhaust and is below the World Health Organization air quality guidelines. The acute relation between air pollution and mortality was assessed. DESIGN: Daily variations in total mortality, mortality in subjects older than 70 years, and cardiovascular and respiratory mortality were related with daily variations in air pollutants for the period 1985-91, using autoregressive Poisson regression models that allow to control for temperature, relative humidity and variables handling temporal and autoregressive patterns. MAIN RESULTS: Black smoke and sulphur dioxide (SO2) were related to total mortality (relative risks (RR) for 100 micrograms/m3 = 1.07 and 1.13 respectively), elderly mortality (RR = 1.06 and 1.13), cardiovascular mortality (RR = 1.09 and 1.14), and respiratory mortality (RR = 1.10 and 1.13); all the associations being statistically significant, except for respiratory mortality (p = 0.07). The association between SO2 and respiratory mortality was stronger in summer (1.24, p < 0.01) than in winter (1.08, p > 0.1). Oxidant pollutants (nitrogen dioxide and ozone) were positively related with elderly mortality (RR = 1.05 and 1.09, respectively) and cardiovascular mortality (RR = 1.07 and 1.09) during the summer (p < 0.05), but not during the winter. CONCLUSIONS: Current air pollutant levels were related to mortality in Barcelona. These results were consistent with similar studies in other cities and coherent with previous studies with emergency room admissions in Barcelona.
PMCID: PMC1060892  PMID: 8758229
10.  Ozone’s Impact on Public Health: Contributions from Indoor Exposures to Ozone and Products of Ozone-Initiated Chemistry 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2006;114(10):1489-1496.
The associations between ozone concentrations measured outdoors and both morbidity and mortality may be partially due to indoor exposures to ozone and ozone-initiated oxidation products. In this article I examine the contributions of such indoor exposures to overall ozone-related health effects by extensive review of the literature as well as further analyses of published data.
Daily inhalation intakes of indoor ozone (micrograms per day) are estimated to be between 25 and 60% of total daily ozone intake. This is especially noteworthy in light of recent work indicating little, if any, threshold for ozone’s impact on mortality. Additionally, the present study estimates that average daily indoor intakes of ozone oxidation products are roughly one-third to twice the indoor inhalation intake of ozone alone. Some of these oxidation products are known or suspected to adversely affect human health (e.g., formaldehyde, acrolein, hydroperoxides, fine and ultrafine particles). Indirect evidence supports connections between morbidity/mortality and exposures to indoor ozone and its oxidation products. For example, cities with stronger associations between outdoor ozone and mortality tend to have residences that are older and less likely to have central air conditioning, which implies greater transport of ozone from outdoors to indoors.
Indoor exposures to ozone and its oxidation products can be reduced by filtering ozone from ventilation air and limiting the indoor use of products and materials whose emissions react with ozone. Such steps might be especially valuable in schools, hospitals, and childcare centers in regions that routinely experience elevated outdoor ozone concentrations.
PMCID: PMC1626413  PMID: 17035131
air exchange rates; aldehydes; indoor chemistry; inhalation intake; morbidity; mortality; secondary organic aerosols; surface chemistry; ultrafine particles
11.  Does one size fit all? The suitability of standard ozone exposure metric conversion ratios and implications for epidemiology 
Several exposure metrics have been applied in health research and policy settings to represent ozone exposure, such as the 24 h average and daily 8 h maximum. Frequently, results calculated using one exposure metric are converted using a simple ratio to compare or combine findings with results using a different metric. This conversion, however, assumes that such a ratio is constant across locations and time periods. We investigated the appropriateness of this conversion method by examining the relationships among various forms of ozone concentrations (24 h average, daily 1 h maximum, and daily 8 h maximum) within and between communities for 78 US communities from 2000 to 2004 and compared results to commonly used conversion ratios. We explored whether the relationships between ozone exposure metrics differ by region, weather, season, and city-specific characteristics. Analysis revealed variation in the relationship among ozone metrics, both across communities and across time within individual communities, indicating that conversion of ozone exposure metrics with a standard ratio introduces uncertainty. For example, the average ratio of the daily 8 h maximum to the daily concentration ranged from 1.23 to 1.83. Within a community, days with higher ozone levels had lower ratios. Relationships among metrics within a community were associated with daily temperature. The community-average exposure metric ratios were lower for communities with higher long-term ozone levels. Ozone metric ratios differed by season because of the different rate of change of ozone metrics throughout the year. We recommend that health effects studies present results from multiple ozone exposure metrics, if possible. When conversions are necessary, more accurate estimates can be obtained using summaries of data for a given location and time period if available, or by basing conversion ratios on data from a similar city and season, such as the results provided in this study.
PMCID: PMC3169292  PMID: 18985076
criteria pollutants; environmental monitoring; exposure modeling
12.  Long-term ambient concentrations of total suspended particulates and oxidants as related to incidence of chronic disease in California Seventh-Day Adventists. 
Cancer incidence and mortality in a cohort of 6000 nonsmoking California Seventh-Day Adventists were monitored for a 6-year period, and relationships with long-term cumulative ambient air pollution were observed. Total suspended particulates (TSP) and ozone were measured in terms of numbers of hours in excess of several threshold levels corresponding to national standards as well as mean concentration. For all malignant neoplasms among females, risk increased with increasing exceedance frequencies of all thresholds of TSP except the lowest one, and those increased risks were highly statistically significant. For respiratory cancers, increased risk was associated with only one threshold of ozone, and this result was of borderline significance. Respiratory disease symptoms were assessed in 1977 and again in 1987 using the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute respiratory symptoms questionnaire on a subcohort of 3914 individuals. Multivariate analyses which adjusted for past and passive smoking and occupational exposures indicated statistically significantly (p less than 0.05) elevated relative risks ranging up to 1.7 for incidence of asthma, definite symptoms of airway obstructive disease, and chronic bronchitis with TSP in excess of all thresholds except the lowest one but not for any thresholds of ozone. A trend association (p = 0.056) was noted between the threshold of 10 pphm ozone and incidence of asthma. These results are presented within the context of standards setting for these constituents of air pollution.
PMCID: PMC1567944  PMID: 1954938
13.  Long-Term Exposure to Silica Dust and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Chinese Workers: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001206.
A retro-prospective cohort study by Weihong Chen and colleagues provides new estimates for the risk of total and cause-specific mortality due to long-term silica dust exposure among Chinese workers.
Human exposure to silica dust is very common in both working and living environments. However, the potential long-term health effects have not been well established across different exposure situations.
Methods and Findings
We studied 74,040 workers who worked at 29 metal mines and pottery factories in China for 1 y or more between January 1, 1960, and December 31, 1974, with follow-up until December 31, 2003 (median follow-up of 33 y). We estimated the cumulative silica dust exposure (CDE) for each worker by linking work history to a job–exposure matrix. We calculated standardized mortality ratios for underlying causes of death based on Chinese national mortality rates. Hazard ratios (HRs) for selected causes of death associated with CDE were estimated using the Cox proportional hazards model. The population attributable risks were estimated based on the prevalence of workers with silica dust exposure and HRs. The number of deaths attributable to silica dust exposure among Chinese workers was then calculated using the population attributable risk and the national mortality rate. We observed 19,516 deaths during 2,306,428 person-years of follow-up. Mortality from all causes was higher among workers exposed to silica dust than among non-exposed workers (993 versus 551 per 100,000 person-years). We observed significant positive exposure–response relationships between CDE (measured in milligrams/cubic meter–years, i.e., the sum of silica dust concentrations multiplied by the years of silica exposure) and mortality from all causes (HR 1.026, 95% confidence interval 1.023–1.029), respiratory diseases (1.069, 1.064–1.074), respiratory tuberculosis (1.065, 1.059–1.071), and cardiovascular disease (1.031, 1.025–1.036). Significantly elevated standardized mortality ratios were observed for all causes (1.06, 95% confidence interval 1.01–1.11), ischemic heart disease (1.65, 1.35–1.99), and pneumoconiosis (11.01, 7.67–14.95) among workers exposed to respirable silica concentrations equal to or lower than 0.1 mg/m3. After adjustment for potential confounders, including smoking, silica dust exposure accounted for 15.2% of all deaths in this study. We estimated that 4.2% of deaths (231,104 cases) among Chinese workers were attributable to silica dust exposure. The limitations of this study included a lack of data on dietary patterns and leisure time physical activity, possible underestimation of silica dust exposure for individuals who worked at the mines/factories before 1950, and a small number of deaths (4.3%) where the cause of death was based on oral reports from relatives.
Long-term silica dust exposure was associated with substantially increased mortality among Chinese workers. The increased risk was observed not only for deaths due to respiratory diseases and lung cancer, but also for deaths due to cardiovascular disease.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Walk along most sandy beaches and you will be walking on millions of grains of crystalline silica, one of the commonest minerals on earth and a major ingredient in glass and in ceramic glazes. Silica is also used in the manufacture of building materials, in foundry castings, and for sandblasting, and respirable (breathable) crystalline silica particles are produced during quarrying and mining. Unfortunately, silica dust is not innocuous. Several serious diseases are associated with exposure to this dust, including silicosis (a chronic lung disease characterized by scarring and destruction of lung tissue), lung cancer, and pulmonary tuberculosis (a serious lung infection). Moreover, exposure to silica dust increases the risk of death (mortality). Worryingly, recent reports indicate that in the US and Europe, about 1.7 and 3.0 million people, respectively, are occupationally exposed to silica dust, figures that are dwarfed by the more than 23 million workers who are exposed in China. Occupational silica exposure, therefore, represents an important global public health concern.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the lung-related adverse health effects of exposure to silica dust have been extensively studied, silica-related health effects may not be limited to these diseases. For example, could silica dust particles increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (diseases that affect the heart and circulation)? Other environmental particulates, such as the products of internal combustion engines, are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but no one knows if the same is true for silica dust particles. Moreover, although it is clear that high levels of exposure to silica dust are dangerous, little is known about the adverse health effects of lower exposure levels. In this cohort study, the researchers examined the effect of long-term exposure to silica dust on the risk of all cause and cause-specific mortality in a large group (cohort) of Chinese workers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers estimated the cumulative silica dust exposure for 74,040 workers at 29 metal mines and pottery factories from 1960 to 2003 from individual work histories and more than four million measurements of workplace dust concentrations, and collected health and mortality data for all the workers. Death from all causes was higher among workers exposed to silica dust than among non-exposed workers (993 versus 551 deaths per 100,000 person-years), and there was a positive exposure–response relationship between silica dust exposure and death from all causes, respiratory diseases, respiratory tuberculosis, and cardiovascular disease. For example, the hazard ratio for all cause death was 1.026 for every increase in cumulative silica dust exposure of 1 mg/m3-year; a hazard ratio is the incidence of an event in an exposed group divided by its incidence in an unexposed group. Notably, there was significantly increased mortality from all causes, ischemic heart disease, and silicosis among workers exposed to respirable silica concentrations at or below 0.1 mg/m3, the workplace exposure limit for silica dust set by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration. For example, the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for silicosis among people exposed to low levels of silica dust was 11.01; an SMR is the ratio of observed deaths in a cohort to expected deaths calculated from recorded deaths in the general population. Finally, the researchers used their data to estimate that, in 2008, 4.2% of deaths among industrial workers in China (231,104 deaths) were attributable to silica dust exposure.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that long-term silica dust exposure is associated with substantially increased mortality among Chinese workers. They confirm that there is an exposure–response relationship between silica dust exposure and a heightened risk of death from respiratory diseases and lung cancer. That is, the risk of death from these diseases increases as exposure to silica dust increases. In addition, they show a significant relationship between silica dust exposure and death from cardiovascular diseases. Importantly, these findings suggest that even levels of silica dust that are considered safe increase the risk of death. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the accuracy of the silica dust exposure estimates and/or by confounding (other factors shared by the people exposed to silica such as diet may have affected their risk of death). Nevertheless, these findings highlight the need to tighten regulations on workplace dust control in China and elsewhere.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The American Lung Association provides information on silicosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on silica in the workplace, including links to relevant US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety publications, and information on silicosis and other pneumoconioses
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration also has detailed information on occupational exposure to crystalline silica
What does silicosis mean to you is a video provided by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration that includes personal experiences of silicosis; Dont let silica dust you is a video produced by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics that identifies ways to reduce silica dust exposure in the workplace
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on silicosis (in English and Spanish)
The International Labour Organization provides information on health surveillance for those exposed to respirable crystalline silica
The World Health Organization has published a report about the health effects of crystalline silica and quartz
PMCID: PMC3328438  PMID: 22529751
14.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Risk of Cardiovascular Events and All-Cause Mortality: A Decade-Long Historical Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(2):e1001599.
Tetyana Kendzerska and colleagues explore the association between physiological measures of obstructive sleep apnea other than the apnea-hypopnea index and the risk of cardiovascular events.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been reported to be a risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) disease. Although the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is the most commonly used measure of OSA, other less well studied OSA-related variables may be more pathophysiologically relevant and offer better prediction. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between OSA-related variables and risk of CV events.
Methods and Findings
A historical cohort study was conducted using clinical database and health administrative data. Adults referred for suspected OSA who underwent diagnostic polysomnography at the sleep laboratory at St Michael's Hospital (Toronto, Canada) between 1994 and 2010 were followed through provincial health administrative data (Ontario, Canada) until May 2011 to examine the occurrence of a composite outcome (myocardial infarction, stroke, congestive heart failure, revascularization procedures, or death from any cause). Cox regression models were used to investigate the association between baseline OSA-related variables and composite outcome controlling for traditional risk factors. The results were expressed as hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs; for continuous variables, HRs compare the 75th and 25th percentiles. Over a median follow-up of 68 months, 1,172 (11.5%) of 10,149 participants experienced our composite outcome. In a fully adjusted model, other than AHI OSA-related variables were significant independent predictors: time spent with oxygen saturation <90% (9 minutes versus 0; HR = 1.50, 95% CI 1.25–1.79), sleep time (4.9 versus 6.4 hours; HR = 1.20, 95% CI 1.12–1.27), awakenings (35 versus 18; HR = 1.06, 95% CI 1.02–1.10), periodic leg movements (13 versus 0/hour; HR = 1.05, 95% CI 1.03–1.07), heart rate (70 versus 56 beats per minute [bpm]; HR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.19–1.37), and daytime sleepiness (HR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.01–1.28).The main study limitation was lack of information about continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) adherence.
OSA-related factors other than AHI were shown as important predictors of composite CV outcome and should be considered in future studies and clinical practice.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder, particularly among middle-aged and elderly people. It is characterized by apnea—a brief interruption in breathing that lasts at least 10 seconds—and hypopnea—a decrease of more than 50% in the amplitude of breathing that lasts at least 10 seconds or clear but smaller decrease in amplitude associated with either oxygen desaturation or an arousal. Patients with OSA experience numerous episodes of apnea and hypopnea during the night; severe OSA is defined as having 30 or more episodes per hour (an apnea-hypopnea index [AHI] of >30). These breathing interruptions occur when relaxation of the upper airway muscles decreases the airflow, which lowers the amount of oxygen in the blood. As a result, affected individuals frequently wake from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Symptoms of OSA include loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Treatments include lifestyle changes such as losing weight (excess fat around the neck increases airway collapse) and smoking cessation. For severe OSA, doctors recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), in which a machine blows pressurized air through a face mask into the airway to keep it open.
Why Was This Study Done?
OSA can be life-threatening. Most directly, daytime sleepiness can cause accidents, but OSA is also associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD, disease that affects the heart and the circulation). To date, studies that have investigated the association between OSA and the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), congestive heart failure, stroke, and other CVDs have used the AHI to diagnose and categorize the severity of OSA. However, by focussing on AHI, clinicians and researchers may be missing opportunities to improve their ability to predict which patients are at the highest risk of CVD. In this historical cohort study, the researchers investigate the association between other OSA-related variables (for example, blood oxygen saturation and sleep fragmentation) and the risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality (death). A historical cohort study examines the medical records of groups of individuals who have different characteristics at baseline for the subsequent occurrence of specific outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used administrative data (including hospitalization records and physicians' claims for services supplied to patients) to follow up adults referred for suspected OSA who underwent diagnostic polysomnography (a sleep study) at a single Canadian hospital between 1994 and 2010. A database of the polysomnography results provided information on OSA-related variables for all the study participants. Over an average follow-up of about 6 years, 11.5% of the 10,149 participants were hospitalized for a myocardial infarction, stroke, or congestive heart failure, underwent a revascularization procedure (an intervention that restores the blood supply to an organ or tissue after CVD has blocked a blood vessel), or had died from any cause. After adjusting for multiple established risk factors for CVD such as smoking and age in Cox regression models (a statistical approach that examines associations between patient variables and outcomes), several OSA-related variables (but not AHI) were significant predictors of CVD. The strongest OSA-related predictor of cardiovascular events or all-cause mortality was total sleep time spent with oxygen saturation below 90%, which increased the risk of a cardiovascular event or death by 50%. Other statistically significant OSA-related predictors (predictors that were unlikely to be associated with the outcome through chance) of cardiovascular events or death included total sleep time, number of awakenings, frequency of periodic leg movements, heart rate, and daytime sleepiness.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that OSA-related factors other than AHI are important predictors of the composite outcome of a cardiovascular event or all-cause mortality. Indeed, although AHI was significantly associated with the researchers' composite outcome in an analysis that did not consider other established risk factors for CVD (“confounders”), the association became non-significant after controlling for potential confounders. The accuracy of these findings, which need to be confirmed in other settings, is likely to be limited by the lack of information available about the use of CPAP by study participants and by the lack of adjustment for some important confounders. Importantly, however, these findings suggest that OSA-related factors other than AHI should be considered as predictors of CVD in future studies and in clinical practice.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has information (including several videos) about obstructive sleep apnea (in English and Spanish), sleep studies, heart disease, and other cardiovascular diseases (some information in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about sleep apnea and about cardiovascular disease
The not-for-profit American Sleep Apnea Association provides detailed information about sleep apnea for patients and health-care professionals, including personal stories about the condition
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on obstructive sleep apnea and on polysomnography; MedlinePlus provides links to further information and advice about obstructive sleep apnea, heart diseases, and vascular diseases (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3913558  PMID: 24503600
15.  Chronic Exposure to Ambient Ozone and Asthma Hospital Admissions among Children 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;116(12):1725-1730.
The association between chronic exposure to air pollution and adverse health outcomes has not been well studied.
This project investigated the impact of chronic exposure to high ozone levels on childhood asthma admissions in New York State.
We followed a birth cohort born in New York State during 1995–1999 to first asthma admission or until 31 December 2000. We identified births and asthma admissions through the New York State Integrated Child Health Information System and linked these data with ambient ozone data (8-hr maximum) from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. We defined chronic ozone exposure using three indicators: mean concentration during the follow-up period, mean concentration during the ozone season, and proportion of follow-up days with ozone levels > 70 ppb. We performed logistic regression analysis to adjust for child’s age, sex, birth weight, and gestational age; maternal race/ethnicity, age, education, insurance status, smoking during pregnancy, and poverty level; and geographic region, temperature, and copollutants.
Asthma admissions were significantly associated with increased ozone levels for all chronic exposure indicators (odds ratios, 1.16–1.68), with a positive dose–response relationship. We found stronger associations among younger children, low sociodemographic groups, and New York City residents as effect modifiers.
Chronic exposure to ambient ozone may increase the risk of asthma admissions among children. Younger children and those in low socioeconomic groups have a greater risk of asthma than do other children at the same ozone level.
PMCID: PMC2599770  PMID: 19079727
air pollution; asthma; children; chronic; hospital admissions; ozone
16.  Modifying Effect of Age on the Association between Ambient Ozone and Nighttime Primary Care Visits Due to Asthma Attack 
Journal of Epidemiology  2009;19(3):143-151.
We examined the association between short-term exposure to outdoor air pollution and nighttime primary care visits due to asthma attack. We also investigated the modifying effects of age on this association.
A case–crossover study was conducted at a primary care clinic in metropolitan Tokyo. The subjects were 308 children aged 0–14 years and 95 adolescents and adults aged 15–64 years. All subjects made visits to the clinic for an asthma attack at between 7 PM and 12 AM. Data on hourly concentrations of particulate matter with a 50% cut-off aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5), ozone, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were obtained. A conditional logistic regression model was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) of primary care visits per unit increment of each air pollutant.
Among children, the ORs in warmer months per 10 ppb increment of the 24-hour mean concentration of ozone were 1.16 (95% confidential interval [CI], 1.00–1.33) adjusted for temperature, and 1.29 (95% CI, 1.08–1.55) adjusted for PM2.5, NO2, and temperature. With respect to modification of the association by age, the ORs for 24-hour mean concentration of ozone—after adjustment for PM2.5, NO2 and temperature in warmer months—in children aged 0–1 years, 2–5 years, and 6–14 years were 1.06 (95% CI, 0.63–1.78), 1.37 (95% CI, 1.05–1.71), and 1.25 (95% CI, 0.87–1.82), respectively. There was no association between ozone and primary care visits among adults.
An association was found between ozone and nighttime primary care visits for asthma attack in warmer months; the association was greater among preschool children.
PMCID: PMC3924139  PMID: 19398846
air pollution; asthma; ozone; particulate matter; preschool children
17.  Inhibition of myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) protein inhibits ozone-induced airway neutrophilia and inflammation 
Experimental lung research  2010;36(2):75-84.
Evidence suggests inhibition of leukocyte trafficking mitigates, in part, ozone-induced inflammation. In the present study, the authors postulated that inhibition of myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS), an 82-kDa protein with multiple biological roles, could inhibit ozone-induced leukocyte trafficking and cytokine secretions. BALB/c mice (n = 5/cohort) were exposed to ozone (100 ppb) or forced air (FA) for 4 hours. MARCKS-inhibiting peptides, MANS, BIO-11000, BIO-11006, or scrambled control peptide RNS, were intratracheally administered prior to ozone exposure. Ozone selectively enhanced bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) levels of killer cells (KCs; 6 ± 0.9-fold), interleukin-6 (IL-6; 12.7 ± 1.9-fold), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF; 2.1 ± 0.5-fold) as compared to cohorts exposed to FA. Additionally, ozone increased BAL neutrophils by 21% ± 2% with no significant (P > .05) changes in other cell types. MANS, BIO-11000, and BIO-11006 significantly reduced ozone-induced KC secretion by 66% ± 14%, 47% ± 15%, and 71.1% ± 14%, and IL-6 secretion by 69% ± 12%, 40% ± 7%, and 86.1% ± 11%, respectively. Ozone-mediated increases in BAL neutrophils were reduced by MANS (86% ± 7%) and BIO-11006 (84% ± 2.5%), but not BIO-11000. These studies identify for the first time the novel potential of MARCKS protein inhibitors in abrogating ozone-induced increases in neutrophils, cytokines, and chemokines in BAL fluid. BIO-11006 is being developed as a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and is currently being evaluated in a phase 2 clinical study.
PMCID: PMC4064305  PMID: 20205598
asthma; BIO-11006; COPD; cytokines; inflammation; MANS peptide
18.  Short-Term Exposure to Ozone Does Not Impair Vascular Function or Affect Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Young Men 
Toxicological Sciences  2013;135(2):292-299.
Air pollution exposure is associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, yet the role of individual pollutants remains unclear. In particular, there is uncertainty regarding the acute effect of ozone exposure on cardiovascular disease. In these studies, we aimed to determine the effect of ozone exposure on vascular function, fibrinolysis, and the autonomic regulation of the heart. Thirty-six healthy men were exposed to ozone (300 ppb) and filtered air for 75min on two occasions in randomized double-blind crossover studies. Bilateral forearm blood flow (FBF) was measured using forearm venous occlusion plethysmography before and during intra-arterial infusions of vasodilators 2–4 and 6–8h after each exposure. Heart rhythm and heart rate variability (HRV) were monitored during and 24h after exposure. Compared with filtered air, ozone exposure did not alter heart rate, blood pressure, or resting FBF at either 2 or 6h. There was a dose-dependent increase in FBF with all vasodilators that was similar after both exposures at 2–4h. Ozone exposure did not impair vasomotor or fibrinolytic function at 6–8h but rather increased vasodilatation to acetylcholine (p = .015) and sodium nitroprusside (p = .005). Ozone did not affect measures of HRV during or after the exposure. Our findings do not support a direct rapid effect of ozone on vascular function or cardiac autonomic control although we cannot exclude an effect of chronic exposure or an interaction between ozone and alternative air pollutants that may be responsible for the adverse cardiovascular health effects attributed to ozone.
PMCID: PMC3807622  PMID: 23872581
air pollution; blood flow; endothelium; fibrinolysis; oxidative stress; ozone.
19.  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
20.  Associations between ozone and morbidity using the Spatial Synoptic Classification system 
Environmental Health  2011;10:49.
Synoptic circulation patterns (large-scale tropospheric motion systems) affect air pollution and, potentially, air-pollution-morbidity associations. We evaluated the effect of synoptic circulation patterns (air masses) on the association between ozone and hospital admissions for asthma and myocardial infarction (MI) among adults in North Carolina.
Daily surface meteorology data (including precipitation, wind speed, and dew point) for five selected cities in North Carolina were obtained from the U.S. EPA Air Quality System (AQS), which were in turn based on data from the National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We used the Spatial Synoptic Classification system to classify each day of the 9-year period from 1996 through 2004 into one of seven different air mass types: dry polar, dry moderate, dry tropical, moist polar, moist moderate, moist tropical, or transitional. Daily 24-hour maximum 1-hour ambient concentrations of ozone were obtained from the AQS. Asthma and MI hospital admissions data for the 9-year period were obtained from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Generalized linear models were used to assess the association of the hospitalizations with ozone concentrations and specific air mass types, using pollutant lags of 0 to 5 days. We examined the effect across cities on days with the same air mass type. In all models we adjusted for dew point and day-of-the-week effects related to hospital admissions.
Ozone was associated with asthma under dry tropical (1- to 5-day lags), transitional (3- and 4-day lags), and extreme moist tropical (0-day lag) air masses. Ozone was associated with MI only under the extreme moist tropical (5-day lag) air masses.
Elevated ozone levels are associated with dry tropical, dry moderate, and moist tropical air masses, with the highest ozone levels being associated with the dry tropical air mass. Certain synoptic circulation patterns/air masses in conjunction with ambient ozone levels were associated with increased asthma and MI hospitalizations.
PMCID: PMC3117763  PMID: 21609456
21.  Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients with Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at:
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website:
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website:
The objective of this analysis was to determine the effectiveness of the influenza vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccination in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in reducing the incidence of influenza-related illness or pneumococcal pneumonia.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Influenza Disease
Influenza is a global threat. It is believed that the risk of a pandemic of influenza still exists. Three pandemics occurred in the 20th century which resulted in millions of deaths worldwide. The fourth pandemic of H1N1 influenza occurred in 2009 and affected countries in all continents.
Rates of serious illness due to influenza viruses are high among older people and patients with chronic conditions such as COPD. The influenza viruses spread from person to person through sneezing and coughing. Infected persons can transfer the virus even a day before their symptoms start. The incubation period is 1 to 4 days with a mean of 2 days. Symptoms of influenza infection include fever, shivering, dry cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose, muscle ache, and sore throat. Other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur.
Complications of influenza infection include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, and other secondary bacterial infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, and otitis media. In viral pneumonia, patients develop acute fever and dyspnea, and may further show signs and symptoms of hypoxia. The organisms involved in bacterial pneumonia are commonly identified as Staphylococcus aureus and Hemophilus influenza. The incidence of secondary bacterial pneumonia is most common in the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as congestive heart disease and chronic bronchitis.
Healthy people usually recover within one week but in very young or very old people and those with underlying medical conditions such as COPD, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, influenza is associated with higher risks and may lead to hospitalization and in some cases death. The cause of hospitalization or death in many cases is viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia. Influenza infection can lead to the exacerbation of COPD or an underlying heart disease.
Streptococcal Pneumonia
Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, is an encapsulated Gram-positive bacterium that often colonizes in the nasopharynx of healthy children and adults. Pneumococcus can be transmitted from person to person during close contact. The bacteria can cause illnesses such as otitis media and sinusitis, and may become more aggressive and affect other areas of the body such as the lungs, brain, joints, and blood stream. More severe infections caused by pneumococcus are pneumonia, bacterial sepsis, meningitis, peritonitis, arthritis, osteomyelitis, and in rare cases, endocarditis and pericarditis.
People with impaired immune systems are susceptible to pneumococcal infection. Young children, elderly people, patients with underlying medical conditions including chronic lung or heart disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, sickle cell disease, and people who have undergone a splenectomy are at a higher risk for acquiring pneumococcal pneumonia.
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccines
Trivalent Influenza Vaccines in Canada
In Canada, 5 trivalent influenza vaccines are currently authorized for use by injection. Four of these are formulated for intramuscular use and the fifth product (Intanza®) is formulated for intradermal use.
The 4 vaccines for intramuscular use are:
Fluviral (GlaxoSmithKline), split virus, inactivated vaccine, for use in adults and children ≥ 6 months;
Vaxigrip (Sanofi Pasteur), split virus inactivated vaccine, for use in adults and children ≥ 6 months;
Agriflu (Novartis), surface antigen inactivated vaccine, for use in adults and children ≥ 6 months; and
Influvac (Abbott), surface antigen inactivated vaccine, for use in persons ≥ 18 years of age.
FluMist is a live attenuated virus in the form of an intranasal spray for persons aged 2 to 59 years. Immunization with current available influenza vaccines is not recommended for infants less than 6 months of age.
Pneumococcal Vaccine
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines were developed more than 50 years ago and have progressed from 2-valent vaccines to the current 23-valent vaccines to prevent diseases caused by 23 of the most common serotypes of S pneumoniae. Canada-wide estimates suggest that approximately 90% of cases of pneumococcal bacteremia and meningitis are caused by these 23 serotypes. Health Canada has issued licenses for 2 types of 23-valent vaccines to be injected intramuscularly or subcutaneously:
Pneumovax 23® (Merck & Co Inc. Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA), and
Pneumo 23® (Sanofi Pasteur SA, Lion, France) for persons 2 years of age and older.
Other types of pneumococcal vaccines licensed in Canada are for pediatric use. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is injected only once. A second dose is applied only in some conditions.
Research Questions
What is the effectiveness of the influenza vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccination compared with no vaccination in COPD patients?
What is the safety of these 2 vaccines in COPD patients?
What is the budget impact and cost-effectiveness of these 2 vaccines in COPD patients?
Research Methods
Literature search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on July 5, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2000 to July 5, 2010. The search was updated monthly through the AutoAlert function of the search up to January 31, 2011. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. Data extraction was carried out by the author.
Inclusion Criteria
studies comparing clinical efficacy of the influenza vaccine or the pneumococcal vaccine with no vaccine or placebo;
randomized controlled trials published between January 1, 2000 and January 31, 2011;
studies including patients with COPD only;
studies investigating the efficacy of types of vaccines approved by Health Canada;
English language studies.
Exclusion Criteria
non-randomized controlled trials;
studies investigating vaccines for other diseases;
studies comparing different variations of vaccines;
studies in which patients received 2 or more types of vaccines;
studies comparing different routes of administering vaccines;
studies not reporting clinical efficacy of the vaccine or reporting immune response only;
studies investigating the efficacy of vaccines not approved by Health Canada.
Outcomes of Interest
Primary Outcomes
Influenza vaccination: Episodes of acute respiratory illness due to the influenza virus.
Pneumococcal vaccination: Time to the first episode of community-acquired pneumonia either due to pneumococcus or of unknown etiology.
Secondary Outcomes
rate of hospitalization and mechanical ventilation
mortality rate
adverse events
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses. The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Efficacy of the Influenza Vaccination in Immunocompetent Patients With COPD
Clinical Effectiveness
The influenza vaccination was associated with significantly fewer episodes of influenza-related acute respiratory illness (ARI). The incidence density of influenza-related ARI was:
All patients: vaccine group: (total of 4 cases) = 6.8 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 17 cases) = 28.1 episodes per 100 person-years, (relative risk [RR], 0.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.06−0.70; P = 0.005).
Patients with severe airflow obstruction (forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] < 50% predicted): vaccine group: (total of 1 case) = 4.6 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 7 cases) = 31.2 episodes per 100 person-years, (RR, 0.1; 95% CI, 0.003−1.1; P = 0.04).
Patients with moderate airflow obstruction (FEV1 50%−69% predicted): vaccine group: (total of 2 cases) = 13.2 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 4 cases) = 23.8 episodes per 100 person-years, (RR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.05−3.8; P = 0.5).
Patients with mild airflow obstruction (FEV1 ≥ 70% predicted): vaccine group: (total of 1 case) = 4.5 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 6 cases) = 28.2 episodes per 100 person-years, (RR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.003−1.3; P = 0.06).
The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed a significant difference between the vaccinated group and the placebo group regarding the probability of not acquiring influenza-related ARI (log-rank test P value = 0.003). Overall, the vaccine effectiveness was 76%. For categories of mild, moderate, or severe COPD the vaccine effectiveness was 84%, 45%, and 85% respectively.
With respect to hospitalization, fewer patients in the vaccine group compared with the placebo group were hospitalized due to influenza-related ARIs, although these differences were not statistically significant. The incidence density of influenza-related ARIs that required hospitalization was 3.4 episodes per 100 person-years in the vaccine group and 8.3 episodes per 100 person-years in the placebo group (RR, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.04−2.5; P = 0.3; log-rank test P value = 0.2). Also, no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups were observed for the 3 categories of severity of COPD.
Fewer patients in the vaccine group compared with the placebo group required mechanical ventilation due to influenza-related ARIs. However, these differences were not statistically significant. The incidence density of influenza-related ARIs that required mechanical ventilation was 0 episodes per 100 person-years in the vaccine group and 5 episodes per 100 person-years in the placebo group (RR, 0.0; 95% CI, 0−2.5; P = 0.1; log-rank test P value = 0.4). In addition, no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups were observed for the 3 categories of severity of COPD. The effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in preventing influenza-related ARIs and influenza-related hospitalization was not related to age, sex, severity of COPD, smoking status, or comorbid diseases.
Overall, significantly more patients in the vaccine group than the placebo group experienced local adverse reactions (vaccine: 17 [27%], placebo: 4 [6%]; P = 0.002). Significantly more patients in the vaccine group than the placebo group experienced swelling (vaccine 4, placebo 0; P = 0.04) and itching (vaccine 4, placebo 0; P = 0.04). Systemic reactions included headache, myalgia, fever, and skin rash and there were no significant differences between the 2 groups for these reactions (vaccine: 47 [76%], placebo: 51 [81%], P = 0.5).
With respect to lung function, dyspneic symptoms, and exercise capacity, there were no significant differences between the 2 groups at 1 week and at 4 weeks in: FEV1, maximum inspiratory pressure at residual volume, oxygen saturation level of arterial blood, visual analogue scale for dyspneic symptoms, and the 6 Minute Walking Test for exercise capacity.
There was no significant difference between the 2 groups with regard to the probability of not acquiring total ARIs (influenza-related and/or non-influenza-related); (log-rank test P value = 0.6).
Summary of Efficacy of the Pneumococcal Vaccination in Immunocompetent Patients With COPD
Clinical Effectiveness
The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed no significant differences between the group receiving the penumoccocal vaccination and the control group for time to the first episode of community-acquired pneumonia due to pneumococcus or of unknown etiology (log-rank test 1.15; P = 0.28). Overall, vaccine efficacy was 24% (95% CI, −24 to 54; P = 0.33).
With respect to the incidence of pneumococcal pneumonia, the Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed a significant difference between the 2 groups (vaccine: 0/298; control: 5/298; log-rank test 5.03; P = 0.03).
Hospital admission rates and median length of hospital stays were lower in the vaccine group, but the difference was not statistically significant. The mortality rate was not different between the 2 groups.
Subgroup Analysis
The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed significant differences between the vaccine and control groups for pneumonia due to pneumococcus and pneumonia of unknown etiology, and when data were analyzed according to subgroups of patients (age < 65 years, and severe airflow obstruction FEV1 < 40% predicted). The accumulated percentage of patients without pneumonia (due to pneumococcus and of unknown etiology) across time was significantly lower in the vaccine group than in the control group in patients younger than 65 years of age (log-rank test 6.68; P = 0.0097) and patients with a FEV1 less than 40% predicted (log-rank test 3.85; P = 0.0498).
Vaccine effectiveness was 76% (95% CI, 20−93; P = 0.01) for patients who were less than 65 years of age and −14% (95% CI, −107 to 38; P = 0.8) for those who were 65 years of age or older. Vaccine effectiveness for patients with a FEV1 less than 40% predicted and FEV1 greater than or equal to 40% predicted was 48% (95% CI, −7 to 80; P = 0.08) and −11% (95% CI, −132 to 47; P = 0.95), respectively. For patients who were less than 65 years of age (FEV1 < 40% predicted), vaccine effectiveness was 91% (95% CI, 35−99; P = 0.002).
Cox modelling showed that the effectiveness of the vaccine was dependent on the age of the patient. The vaccine was not effective in patients 65 years of age or older (hazard ratio, 1.53; 95% CI, 0.61−a2.17; P = 0.66) but it reduced the risk of acquiring pneumonia by 80% in patients less than 65 years of age (hazard ratio, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.06−0.66; P = 0.01).
No patients reported any local or systemic adverse reactions to the vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3384373  PMID: 23074431
22.  Particulate air pollution and survival in a COPD cohort 
Environmental Health  2008;7:48.
Several studies have shown cross-sectional associations between long term exposure to particulate air pollution and survival in general population or convenience cohorts. Less is known about susceptibility, or year to year changes in exposure. We investigated whether particles were associated with survival in a cohort of persons with COPD in 34 US cities, eliminating the usual cross-sectional exposure and treating PM10 as a within city time varying exposure.
Using hospital discharge data, we constructed a cohort of persons discharged alive with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease using Medicare data between 1985 and 1999. 12-month averages of PM10 were merged to the individual annual follow up in each city. We applied Cox's proportional hazard regression model in each city, with adjustment for individual risk factors.
We found significant associations in the survival analyses for single year and multiple lag exposures, with a hazard ratio for mortality for an increase of 10 μg/m3 PM10 over the previous 4 years of 1.22 (95% CI: 1.17–1.27).
Persons discharged alive for COPD have substantial mortality risks associated with exposure to particles. The risk is evident for exposure in the previous year, and higher in a 4 year distributed lag model. These risks are significantly greater than seen in time series analyses.
PMCID: PMC2572050  PMID: 18847462
23.  Meta-analysis of the Association between Short-Term Exposure to Ambient Ozone and Respiratory Hospital Admissions 
Ozone is associated with health impacts including respiratory outcomes; however, results differ across studies. Meta-analysis is an increasingly important approach to synthesizing evidence across studies. We conducted meta-analysis of short-term ozone exposure and respiratory hospitalizations to evaluate variation across studies and explore some of the challenges in meta-analysis. We identified 136 estimates from 96 studies and investigated how estimates differed by age, ozone metric, season, lag, region, disease category, and hospitalization type. Overall results indicate associations between ozone and various types of respiratory hospitalizations; however, study characteristics affected risk estimates. Estimates were similar, but higher, for the elderly compared to all ages and for previous day exposure compared to same day exposure. Comparison across studies was hindered by variation in definitions of disease categories, as some (e.g., asthma) were identified through ≥3 different sets of ICD codes. Although not all analyses exhibited evidence of publication bias, adjustment for publication bias generally lowered overall estimates. Emergency hospitalizations for total respiratory disease increased 4.47% (95% interval 2.48, 6.50%) per 10ppb 24-hr ozone among the elderly without adjustment for publication bias and 2.97% (1.05, 4.94%) with adjustment. Comparison of multi-city study results and meta-analysis based on single-city studies further suggested publication bias.
PMCID: PMC3138529  PMID: 21779304
24.  The Glutathione-S-Transferase Mu 1 null genotype modulates ozone-induced airway inflammation in humans 
The Glutathione-S-Transferase Mu 1 null genotype has been reported to be a risk factor for acute respiratory disease associated with increases in ambient air ozone. Ozone is known to cause an immediate decrease in lung function and increased airway inflammation. However, it is not known if GSTM1 modulates these ozone responses in vivo in humans
The purpose of this study was to determine if the GSTM1 null genotype modulates ozone responses in humans.
Thirty-five normal volunteers were genotyped for the GSTM1 null mutation and underwent a standard ozone exposure protocol to determine if lung function and inflammatory responses to ozone were different between the 19 GSTM1 normal and 16 GSTM1 null volunteers.
GSTM1 did not modulate lung function responses to acute ozone. Granulocyte influx 4 hours after challenge was similar between GSTM1 normal and null volunteers. However, GSTM1 null volunteers had significantly increased airway neutrophils 24 hours after challenge, as well as increased expression of HLA-DR on airway macrophages and dendritic cells.
The GSTM1 null genotype is associated with increased airways inflammation 24 hours following ozone exposure, consistent with the lag time observed between increased ambient air ozone exposure and exacerbations of lung disease.
Clinical Implications
These observations suggest that the GSTM1 null genotype likely confers increased risk for exacerbation of ozone-induced lung disease through promoting an enhanced neutrophilic and monocytic inflammatory response to ozone.
Capsule summary
The GSTM1 null genotype is associated with increased risk for ozone-induced lung disease. We report the GSTM1 genotype modulates ozone-induced inflammation but not lung function, and may predict persons at risk for environmental lung disease.
PMCID: PMC3038610  PMID: 19796798
Glutathione-S-Transferase Mu 1; Ozone; Pollution; Inflammation; Polymorphonuclear Neutrophil; Macrophage; Dendritic cell
25.  Association between air pollution and acute childhood wheezy episodes: prospective observational study. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1996;312(7032):661-665.
OBJECTIVE--To examine the association between the air pollutants ozone, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide and the incidence of acute childhood wheezy episodes. DESIGN--Prospective observational study over one year. SETTING--District general hospital. SUBJECTS--1025 children attending the accident and emergency department with acute wheezy episodes; 4285 children with other conditions as the control group. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Daily incidence of acute wheezy episodes. RESULTS--After seasonal adjustment, day to day variations in daily average concentrations of ozone and sulphur dioxide were found to have significant associations with the incidence of acute wheezy episodes. The strongest association was with ozone, for which a non-linear U shaped relation was seen. In terms of the incidence rate ratio (1 at a mean 24 hour ozone concentration of 40 microg/m3 (SD=19.1)), children were more likely to attend when the concentration was two standard deviations below the mean (incidence rate ratio=3.01; 95% confidence interval 2.17 to 4.18) or two standard deviations above the mean (1.34; 1.09 to 1.66). Sulphur dioxide had a weaker log-linear relation with incidence (1.12; 1.05 to 1.19 for each standard deviation (14.1) increase in sulphur dioxide concentration). Further adjustment for temperature and wind speed did not significantly alter these associations. CONCLUSIONS--Independent of season, temperature, and wind speed, fluctuations in concentrations of atmospheric ozone and sulphur dioxide are strongly associated with patterns of attendance at accident and emergency departments for acute childhood wheezy episodes. A critical ozone concentration seems to exist in the atmosphere above or below which children are more likely to develop symptoms.
PMCID: PMC2350536  PMID: 8597731

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