Long-term exposure to particulate air pollution and black carbon in relation to natural and cause-specific mortality: a multicohort study in Sweden
Objectives To estimate concentration–response relationships for particulate matter (PM) and black carbon (BC) in relation to mortality in cohorts from three Swedish cities with comparatively low pollutant levels.
Setting Cohorts from Gothenburg, Stockholm and Umeå, Sweden.
Design High-resolution dispersion models were used to estimate annual mean concentrations of PM with aerodynamic diameter ≤10 µm (PM10) and ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5), and BC, at individual addresses during each year of follow-up, 1990–2011. Moving averages were calculated for the time windows 1–5 years (lag1–5) and 6–10 years (lag6–10) preceding the outcome. Cause-specific mortality data were obtained from the national cause of death registry. Cohort-specific HRs were estimated using Cox regression models and then meta-analysed including a random effect of cohort.
Participants During the study period, 7 340 cases of natural mortality, 2 755 cases of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and 817 cases of respiratory and lung cancer mortality were observed among in total 68 679 individuals and 689 813 person-years of follow-up.
Results Both PM10 (range: 6.3–41.9 µg/m3) and BC (range: 0.2–6.8 µg/m3) were associated with natural mortality showing 17% (95% CI 6% to 31%) and 9% (95% CI 0% to 18%) increased risks per 10 µg/m3 and 1 µg/m3 of lag1-5 exposure, respectively. For PM2.5 (range: 4.0–22.4 µg/m3), the estimated increase was 13% per 5 µg/m3, but less precise (95% CI −9% to 40%). Estimates for CVD mortality appeared higher for both PM10 and PM2.5. No association was observed with respiratory mortality.
Conclusion The results support an effect of long-term air pollution on natural mortality and mortality in CVD with high relative risks also at low exposure levels. These findings are relevant for future decisions concerning air quality policies.