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1.  Concentration–Response Function for Ozone and Daily Mortality: Results from Five Urban and Five Rural U.K. Populations 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2012;120(10):1411-1417.
Background: Short-term exposure to ozone has been associated with increased daily mortality. The shape of the concentration–response relationship—and, in particular, if there is a threshold—is critical for estimating public health impacts.
Objective: We investigated the concentration–response relationship between daily ozone and mortality in five urban and five rural areas in the United Kingdom from 1993 to 2006.
Methods: We used Poisson regression, controlling for seasonality, temperature, and influenza, to investigate associations between daily maximum 8-hr ozone and daily all-cause mortality, assuming linear, linear-threshold, and spline models for all-year and season-specific periods. We examined sensitivity to adjustment for particles (urban areas only) and alternative temperature metrics.
Results: In all-year analyses, we found clear evidence for a threshold in the concentration–response relationship between ozone and all-cause mortality in London at 65 µg/m3 [95% confidence interval (CI): 58, 83] but little evidence of a threshold in other urban or rural areas. Combined linear effect estimates for all-cause mortality were comparable for urban and rural areas: 0.48% (95% CI: 0.35, 0.60) and 0.58% (95% CI: 0.36, 0.81) per 10-µg/m3 increase in ozone concentrations, respectively. Seasonal analyses suggested thresholds in both urban and rural areas for effects of ozone during summer months.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that health impacts should be estimated across the whole ambient range of ozone using both threshold and nonthreshold models, and models stratified by season. Evidence of a threshold effect in London but not in other study areas requires further investigation. The public health impacts of exposure to ozone in rural areas should not be overlooked.
PMCID: PMC3491921  PMID: 22814173
concentration–response function; daily mortality; ozone; U.K. population
2.  Parental education and lung function of children in the PATY study 
Studies of the relationships between low socio-economic status and impaired lung function were conducted mainly in Western European countries and North America. East–West differences remain unexplored. Associations between parental education and lung function were explored using data on 24,010 school-children from eight cross-sectional studies conducted in North America, Western and Eastern Europe. Parental education was defined as low and high using country-specific classifications. Country-specific estimates of effects of low parental education on volume and flow parameters were obtained using linear and logistic regression, controlling for early life and other individual risk factors. Meta-regressions were used for assessment of heterogeneity between country-specific estimates. The association between low parental education and lung function was not consistent across the countries, but showed a more pronounced inverse gradient in the Western countries. The most consistent decrease associated with low parental education was found for peak expiratory flow (PEF), ranging from −2.80 to −1.14%, with statistically significant associations in five out of eight countries. The mean odds ratio for low PEF (<75% of predicted) was 1.34 (95% CI 1.06–1.70) after all adjustments. Although social gradients were attenuated after adjusting for known risk factors, these risk factors could not completely explain the social gradient in lung function.
PMCID: PMC3018610  PMID: 20882323
Lung function; Parental education; Combined analysis; East–West differences; PATY study; Children
3.  Current and future climate- and air pollution-mediated impacts on human health 
Environmental Health  2009;8(Suppl 1):S8.
We describe a project to quantify the burden of heat and ozone on mortality in the UK, both for the present-day and under future emission scenarios.
Mortality burdens attributable to heat and ozone exposure are estimated by combination of climate-chemistry modelling and epidemiological risk assessment. Weather forecasting models (WRF) are used to simulate the driving meteorology for the EMEP4UK chemistry transport model at 5 km by 5 km horizontal resolution across the UK; the coupled WRF-EMEP4UK model is used to simulate daily surface temperature and ozone concentrations for the years 2003, 2005 and 2006, and for future emission scenarios. The outputs of these models are combined with evidence on the ozone-mortality and heat-mortality relationships derived from epidemiological analyses (time series regressions) of daily mortality in 15 UK conurbations, 1993-2003, to quantify present-day health burdens.
During the August 2003 heatwave period, elevated ozone concentrations > 200 μg m-3 were measured at sites in London and elsewhere. This and other ozone photochemical episodes cause breaches of the UK air quality objective for ozone. Simulations performed with WRF-EMEP4UK reproduce the August 2003 heatwave temperatures and ozone concentrations. There remains day-to-day variability in the high ozone concentrations during the heatwave period, which on some days may be explained by ozone import from the European continent.
Preliminary calculations using extended time series of spatially-resolved WRF-EMEP4UK model output suggest that in the summers (May to September) of 2003, 2005 & 2006 over 6000 deaths were attributable to ozone and around 5000 to heat in England and Wales. The regional variation in these deaths appears greater for heat-related than for ozone-related burdens.
Changes in UK health burdens due to a range of future emission scenarios will be quantified. These future emissions scenarios span a range of possible futures from assuming current air quality legislation is fully implemented, to a more optimistic case with maximum feasible reductions, through to a more pessimistic case with continued strong economic growth and minimal implementation of air quality legislation.
Elevated surface ozone concentrations during the 2003 heatwave period led to exceedences of the current UK air quality objective standards. A coupled climate-chemistry model is able to reproduce these temperature and ozone extremes. By combining model simulations of surface temperature and ozone with ozone-heat-mortality relationships derived from an epidemiological regression model, we estimate present-day and future health burdens across the UK. Future air quality legislation may need to consider the risk of increases in future heatwaves.
PMCID: PMC2796504  PMID: 20102593
4.  Parental smoking and children's respiratory health: independent effects of prenatal and postnatal exposure 
Tobacco Control  2006;15(4):294-301.
Adverse effects have been reported of prenatal and/or postnatal passive exposure to smoking on children's health. Uncertainties remain about the relative importance of smoking at different periods in the child's life. We investigate this in a pooled analysis, on 53 879 children from 12 cross‐sectional studies—components of the PATY study (Pollution And The Young).
Effects were estimated, within each study, of three exposures: mother smoked during pregnancy, parental smoking in the first two years, current parental smoking. Outcomes were: wheeze, asthma, “woken by wheeze”, bronchitis, nocturnal cough, morning cough, “sensitivity to inhaled allergens” and hay fever. Logistic regressions were used, controlling for individual risk factors and study area. Heterogeneity between study‐specific results, and mean effects (allowing for heterogeneity) were estimated using meta‐analytical tools.
There was strong evidence linking parental smoking to wheeze, asthma, bronchitis and nocturnal cough, with mean odds ratios all around 1.15, with independent effects of prenatal and postnatal exposures for most associations.
Adverse effects of both pre‐ and postnatal parental smoking on children's respiratory health were confirmed. Asthma was most strongly associated with maternal smoking during pregnancy, but postnatal exposure showed independent associations with a range of other respiratory symptoms. All tobacco smoke exposure has serious consequences for children's respiratory health and needs to be reduced urgently.
PMCID: PMC2563598  PMID: 16885578
tobacco smoke; fetus; child; respiratory symptoms; asthma
5.  Geographic variation and localised clustering of congenital anomalies in Great Britain 
Environmental pollution as a cause of congenital anomalies is sometimes suspected because of clustering of anomalies in areas of higher exposure. This highlights questions around spatial heterogeneity (clustering) in congenital anomaly rates. If spatial variation is endemic, then any one specific cluster is less remarkable, though the presence of uncontrolled geographically clustered risk factors is suggested. If rates are relatively homogeneous across space other than around specific hazards, then evidence for these hazards causing the clusters is strengthened. We sought to estimate the extent of spatial heterogeneity in congenital anomaly rates in the United Kingdom.
The study population covered about one million births from five registers in Britain from 1991–1999. We estimated heterogeneity across four geographical levels: register area, hospital catchment, electoral ward, and enumeration district, using a negative binomial regression model. We also sought clusters using a circular scan statistic.
Congenital anomaly rates clearly varied across register areas and hospital catchments (p < 0.001), but not below this level (p > 0.2). Adjusting for socioeconomic deprivation and maternal age made little difference to the extent of geographical variation for most congenital anomaly subtypes. The two most significant circular clusters (of four ano-rectal atresias and six congenital heart diseases) contained two or more siblings.
The variation in rates between registers and hospital catchment area may have resulted in part from differences in case ascertainment, and this should be taken into account in geographical epidemiological studies of environmental exposures. The absence of evidence for variation below this level should be interpreted cautiously in view of the low power of general heterogeneity tests. Nevertheless, the data suggest that strong localised clusters in congenital anomalies are uncommon, so clusters around specific putative environmental hazards are remarkable when observed. Negative binomial models applied at successive hierarchical levels provide an approach of intermediate complexity to characterising geographical heterogeneity.
PMCID: PMC1939702  PMID: 17617898
6.  Effect of influenza vaccination on excess deaths occurring during periods of high circulation of influenza: cohort study in elderly people 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7467):660.
Objective To estimate the protection against death provided by vaccination against influenza.
Design Prospective cohort follow up supplemented by weekly national counts of influenza confirmed in the community.
Setting Primary care.
Participants 24 535 patients aged over 75 years from 73 general practices in Great Britain.
Main outcome measure Death.
Results In unvaccinated members of the cohort daily all cause mortality was strongly associated with an index of influenza circulating in the population (mortality ratio 1.16, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.29 at 90th centile of circulating influenza). The association was strongest for respiratory deaths but was also present for cardiovascular deaths. In contrast, in vaccinated people mortality from any cause was not associated with circulating influenza. The difference in patterns between vaccinated and unvaccinated people could not easily be due to chance (P = 0.02, all causes).
Conclusions This study, using a novel and robust approach to control for confounding, provides robust evidence of a protective effect on mortality of vaccination against influenza.
PMCID: PMC517645  PMID: 15313884
7.  Vulnerability to winter mortality in elderly people in Britain: population based study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7467):647.
Objective To examine the determinants of vulnerability to winter mortality in elderly British people.
Design Population based cohort study (119 389 person years of follow up).
Setting 106 general practices from the Medical Research Council trial of assessment and management of older people in Britain.
Participants People aged ≥ 75 years.
Main outcome measures Mortality (10 123 deaths) determined by follow up through the Office for National Statistics.
Results Month to month variation accounted for 17% of annual all cause mortality, but only 7.8% after adjustment for temperature. The overall winter:non-winter rate ratio was 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.26 to 1.36). There was little evidence that this ratio varied by geographical region, age, or any of the personal, socioeconomic, or clinical factors examined, with two exceptions: after adjustment for all major covariates the winter:non-winter ratio in women compared with men was 1.11 (1.00 to 1.23), and those with a self reported history of respiratory illness had a winter:non-winter ratio of 1.20 (1.08 to 1.34) times that of people without a history of respiratory illness. There was no evidence that socioeconomic deprivation or self reported financial worries were predictive of winter death.
Conclusion Except for female sex and pre-existing respiratory illness, there was little evidence for vulnerability to winter death associated with factors thought to lead to vulnerability. The lack of socioeconomic gradient suggests that policies aimed at relief of fuel poverty may need to be supplemented by additional measures to tackle the burden of excess winter deaths in elderly people.
PMCID: PMC517639  PMID: 15315961

Results 1-7 (7)