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1.  Ozone and Survival in Four Cohorts with Potentially Predisposing Diseases 
Rationale: Time series studies have reported associations between ozone and daily deaths. Only one cohort study has reported the effect of long-term exposures on deaths, and little is known about effects of chronic ozone exposure on survival in susceptible populations.
Objectives: We investigated whether ozone was associated with survival in four cohorts of persons with specific diseases in 105 United States cities, treating ozone as a time varying exposure.
Methods: We used Medicare data (1985–2006), and constructed cohorts of persons hospitalized with chronic conditions that might predispose to ozone effects: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and myocardial infarction. Yearly warm-season average ozone was merged to the individual follow-up in each city. We applied Cox proportional hazard model for each cohort within each city, adjusting for individual risk factors, temperature, and city-specific long-term trends.
Measurements and Main Results: We found significant associations with a hazard ratio for mortality of 1.06 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–1.08) per 5-ppb increase in summer average ozone for persons with congestive heart failure; of 1.09 (95% CI, 1.06–1.12) with myocardial infarction; of 1.07 (95% CI, 1.04–1.09) with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and of 1.07 (95% CI, 1.05–1.10) for diabetics. We also found that the effect varied by region, but that this was mostly explained by mean temperature, which is likely a surrogate of air conditioning use, and hence exposure.
Conclusions: This is the first study that follows persons with specific chronic conditions, and shows that long-term ozone exposure is associated with increased risk of death in these groups.
PMCID: PMC3208652  PMID: 21700916
survival analysis; ozone; long-term exposure; cardiovascular disease; mortality
2.  Associations of PM10 with Sleep and Sleep-disordered Breathing in Adults from Seven U.S. Urban Areas 
Rationale: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), the recurrent episodic disruption of normal breathing during sleep, affects as much as 17% of U.S. adults, and may be more prevalent in poor urban environments. SDB and air pollution have been linked to increased cardiovascular diseases and mortality, but the association between pollution and SDB is poorly understood.
Objectives: We used data from the Sleep Heart Health Study (SHHS), a U.S. multicenter cohort study assessing cardiovascular and other consequences of SDB, to examine whether particulate air matter less than 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) was associated with SDB among persons 39 years of age and older.
Methods: Using baseline data from SHHS urban sites, outcomes included the following: the respiratory disturbance index (RDI); percentage of sleep time at less than 90% O2 saturation; and sleep efficiency, measured by overnight in-home polysomnography. We applied a fixed-effect model containing a city effect, controlling for potential predictors. In all models we included both the 365-day moving averages of PM10 and temperature (long-term effects) and the differences between the daily measures of these two predictors and their 365-day average (short-term effects).
Measurements and Main Results: In summer, increases in RDI or percentage of sleep time at less than 90% O2 saturation, and decreases in sleep efficiency, were all associated with increases in short-term variation in PM10. Over all seasons, we found that increased RDI was associated with an 11.5% (95% confidence interval: 1.96, 22.01) increase per interquartile range increase (25.5°F) in temperature.
Conclusions: Reduction in air pollution exposure may decrease the severity of SDB and nocturnal hypoxemia and may improve cardiac risk.
PMCID: PMC2949406  PMID: 20508218
particulate matter; sleep-disordered breathing; sleep architecture
3.  Rapid DNA Methylation Changes after Exposure to Traffic Particles 
Rationale: Exposure to particulate air pollution has been related to increased hospitalization and death, particularly from cardiovascular disease. Lower blood DNA methylation content is found in processes related to cardiovascular outcomes, such as oxidative stress, aging, and atherosclerosis.
Objectives: We evaluated whether particulate pollution modifies DNA methylation in heavily methylated sequences with high representation throughout the human genome.
Methods: We measured DNA methylation of long interspersed nucleotide element (LINE)-1 and Alu repetitive elements by quantitative polymerase chain reaction–pyrosequencing of 1,097 blood samples from 718 elderly participants in the Boston area Normative Aging Study. We used covariate-adjusted mixed models to account for within-subject correlation in repeated measures. We estimated the effects on DNA methylation of ambient particulate pollutants (black carbon, particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm [PM2.5], or sulfate) in multiple time windows (4 h to 7 d) before the examination. We estimated standardized regression coefficients (β) expressing the fraction of a standard deviation change in DNA methylation associated with a standard deviation increase in exposure.
Measurements and Main Results: Repetitive element DNA methylation varied in association with time-related variables, such as day of the week and season. LINE-1 methylation decreased after recent exposure to higher black carbon (β = −0.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], −0.18 to −0.04; P = 0.002) and PM2.5 (β = −0.13; 95% CI, −0.19 to −0.06; P < 0.001 for the 7-d moving average). In two-pollutant models, only black carbon, a tracer of traffic particles, was significantly associated with LINE-1 methylation (β = −0.09; 95% CI, −0.17 to −0.01; P = 0.03). No association was found with Alu methylation (P > 0.12).
Conclusions: We found decreased repeated-element methylation after exposure to traffic particles. Whether decreased methylation mediates exposure-related health effects remains to be determined.
PMCID: PMC2720123  PMID: 19136372
epigenetic processes; air pollution; inhalation exposure; interspersed repetitive sequences
4.  Traffic-related Particles Are Associated with Elevated Homocysteine 
Rationale: Recent epidemiologic studies have shown that homocysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid formed during the metabolism of methionine, is a risk factor for atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, and thrombosis. Particulate air pollution has been related to cardiovascular death and hospital admission, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully elucidated.
Objectives: We examined the associations between ambient particulate air pollution and plasma concentrations of homocysteine among 960 community-residing older men (mean age, 73.6 ± 6.9 yr).
Methods: Total homocysteine in plasma, measured using high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection, was regressed on each ambient particulate pollutant (black carbon, organic carbon, sulfate or PM2.5), and effect modification by plasma and dietary B vitamins (folate, B6, and B12) was examined.
Measurements and Main Results: The median concentration of total homocysteine was 10.6 μmol/L. Statistically significant positive associations of total homocysteine were observed with traffic-related particles (black carbon and organic carbon). No association was observed with sulfate, an indicator of coal combustion particles, or PM2.5 (particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter). The effects of black carbon and organic carbon were more pronounced in persons with low concentrations of plasma folate and vitamin B12.
Conclusions: Exposures to ambient particles, particularly from traffic, are associated with elevated plasma total homocysteine. Homocysteine may be a component or biological marker of the oxidation pathways underlying the effect of ambient particles on the cardiovascular system.
PMCID: PMC2542426  PMID: 18467508
air pollution; folate; homocysteine; traffic particles; vitamin B12
5.  Statin Use Reduces Decline in Lung Function 
Rationale: Decreased lung function has been linked to increased inflammation and oxidative stress. Statins have demonstrated antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Objectives: We investigated the effect of statin use on decline in lung function in the elderly, and whether smoking modified this effect.
Methods: Our study population included 2,136 measurements on 803 elderly men from the Normative Aging Study whose lung function (FVC and FEV1) was measured two to four times between 1995 and 2005. Subjects indicated statin use and smoking history at each visit. We used mixed linear models to estimate the effects of each covariate, adjusting for subject and possible confounders.
Measurements and Main Results: For those not using statins, the estimated decline in FEV1 was 23.9 ml/year (95% confidence interval [CI], −27.8 to −20.1 ml/yr), whereas those taking statins had an estimated 10.9-ml/year decline in FEV1 (95% CI, −16.9 to −5.0 ml/yr). We also examined the effect of statins with smoking by dividing the cohort into four groups: never-smokers, longtime quitters (quit ≥ 10 yr ago), recent quitters (quit < 10 yr ago), and current smokers. We found a significant three-way interaction between time since first visit, statin use, and smoking status (P < 0.001). Within each smoking category, the effect of statins was always estimated to be beneficial, but the size of the improvement in the decline rate varied among smoking groups. We found similar results for FVC decline.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that statin use attenuates decline in lung function in the elderly, with the size of the beneficial effect modified by smoking status.
PMCID: PMC2020828  PMID: 17673694
statins; lung function; FVC; FEV1; smoking
6.  Respiratory Effects of Environmental Tobacco Exposure Are Enhanced by Bronchial Hyperreactivity 
Rationale: Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is associated with increased reports of respiratory symptoms and reduced lung function, but the long-term effects of ETS are unclear, notably in healthy individuals with bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR).
Objective: To assess the longitudinal effects of ETS exposure on the development of respiratory symptoms and spirometry in subjects with BHR.
Methods: The study population included 1,661 never-smokers from the SAPALDIA (Swiss Study on Air Pollution and Lung Diseases in Adults) cohort, assessed in 1991 (baseline) and 11 yr later, who were symptom-free at baseline. Incident reports of respiratory symptoms and results of spirometry were assessed at the follow-up survey.
Main Results: Exposure to ETS reported in the two surveys was strongly associated with the development of cough (odds ratio, 2.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.2–3.7; p = 0.01). In subjects with BHR exposed to ETS at both surveys, a trend for strong associations were observed for wheeze, cough, dyspnea, and chronic bronchitis; however, the association reached statistical significance only for the symptom of dyspnea (p < 0.01). Lower FEV1/FVC (mean ± SD, 72.9 ± 7.7 vs. 76.8 ± 6.1%; p < 0.01) and FEF25–75 (forced expiratory flow, midexpiratory phase)/FVC (mean ± SD, 56.1 ± 22.5 vs. 68.1 ± 21.6%; p < 0.01) were observed in subjects with BHR exposed to ETS compared with nonexposed subjects without BHR. Lower values were found in subjects continuing exposure by the follow-up survey.
Conclusion: Exposure to ETS was strongly associated with the development of respiratory symptoms in previously asymptomatic subjects with BHR within 11 yr. Furthermore, subjects with underlying BHR had reduced lung function at follow-up, thus suggesting a higher risk for the development of chronic respiratory disease in this subset of the population.
PMCID: PMC2648112  PMID: 16931633
bronchial hyperreactivity; cohort studies; environmental tobacco smoke; lung function; respiratory symptoms
7.  Reduction in Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Mortality 
Rationale: A large body of epidemiologic literature has found an association of increased fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) with acute and chronic mortality. The effect of improvements in particle exposure is less clear.
Objectives: Earlier analysis of the Harvard Six Cities adult cohort study showed an association between long-term ambient PM2.5 and mortality between enrollment in the mid-1970s and follow-up until 1990. We extended mortality follow-up for 8 yr in a period of reduced air pollution concentrations.
Methods: Annual city-specific PM2.5 concentrations were measured between 1979 and 1988, and estimated for later years from publicly available data. Exposure was defined as (1) city-specific mean PM2.5 during the two follow-up periods, (2) mean PM2.5 in the first period and change between these periods, (3) overall mean PM2.5 across the entire follow-up, and (4) year-specific mean PM2.5. Mortality rate ratios were estimated with Cox proportional hazards regression controlling for individual risk factors.
Measurements and Main Results: We found an increase in overall mortality associated with each 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 modeled either as the overall mean (rate ratio [RR], 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07–1.26) or as exposure in the year of death (RR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.06–1.22). PM2.5 exposure was associated with lung cancer (RR, 1.27; 95% CI, 0.96–1.69) and cardiovascular deaths (RR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.13–1.44). Improved overall mortality was associated with decreased mean PM2.5 (10 μg/m3) between periods (RR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.57–0.95).
Conclusion: Total, cardiovascular, and lung cancer mortality were each positively associated with ambient PM2.5 concentrations. Reduced PM2.5 concentrations were associated with reduced mortality risk.
PMCID: PMC2662950  PMID: 16424447
air pollution; cohort studies; follow-up studies; mortality
8.  Glutathione-S-Transferase M1, Obesity, Statins, and Autonomic Effects of Particles 
Rationale: Air pollution by particulate matter (PM) has been associated with cardiovascular deaths, although the mechanism of action is unclear. One proposed pathway is through disturbances of the autonomic control of the heart.
Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that such disturbances are mediated by PM increasing oxidative stress by examining the association between PM and the high-frequency (HF) component of heart rate variability as modified by the presence or absence of the allele for glutathione-S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) and the use of statins, obesity, high neutrophil counts, higher blood pressure, and older age.
Methods: We examined the association between particles less than 2.5 μM in aerodiameter (PM2.5) and HF in 497 participants in the Normative Aging Study, using linear regression controlling for covariates.
Main Results: A 10-μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 during the 48 h before HF measurement was associated with a 34% decrease in HF, 95% confidence interval (−9%, −52%), in subjects without the allele, but had no effect in subjects with GSTM1 present. Among GSTM1-null subjects, the use of statins eliminated the effect of PM2.5. Obesity and high neutrophil counts also worsened the PM effects with or without GSTM1.
Conclusion: The effects of PM2.5 on HF appear to be mediated by reactive oxygen species. This may be a key pathway for the adverse effects of combustion particles.
PMCID: PMC2718454  PMID: 16020798
genetic polymorphisms; heart rate variability; oxidative stress; particles

Results 1-8 (8)