Ambient air pollution, traffic noise and adult asthma prevalence: a BioSHaRE approach

Yutong Cai*, Wilma L. Zijlema, Dany Doiron, Marta Blangiardo, Paul R. Burton, Isabel Fortier, Amadou Gaye, John Gulliver, Kees De Hoogh, Kristian Hveem, Stéphane Mbatchou, David W. Morley, Ronald P. Stolk, Paul Elliott, Anna L. Hansell, Susan Hodgson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the effects of both ambient air pollution and traffic noise on adult asthma prevalence, using harmonised data from three European cohort studies established in 2006–2013 (HUNT3, Lifelines and UK Biobank). Residential exposures to ambient air pollution (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤10 µm (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2)) were estimated by a pan-European Land Use Regression model for 2007. Traffic noise for 2009 was modelled at home addresses by adapting a standardised noise assessment framework (CNOSSOS-EU). A cross-sectional analysis of 646731 participants aged ≥20 years was undertaken using DataSHIELD to pool data for individual-level analysis via a “compute to the data” approach. Multivariate logistic regression models were fitted to assess the effects of each exposure on lifetime and current asthma prevalence. PM10 or NO2 higher by 10 µg·m−3 was associated with 12.8% (95% CI 9.5–16.3%) and 1.9% (95% CI 1.1–2.8%) higher lifetime asthma prevalence, respectively, independent of confounders. Effects were larger in those aged ≥50 years, ever-smokers and less educated. Noise exposure was not significantly associated with asthma prevalence. This study suggests that long-term ambient PM10 exposure is associated with asthma prevalence in western European adults. Traffic noise is not associated with asthma prevalence, but its potential to impact on asthma exacerbations needs further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1502127
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support statement: The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement 261433 (Biobank Standardisation and Harmonisation for Research Excellence in the European Union (BioSHaRE)). BioSHaRE is engaged in a Bioresource Research Impact Factor (BRIF) policy pilot study ( DataSHIELD development is also partly funded under a strategic award from the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust underpinning the ALSPAC (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) project, and the Welsh and Scottish Farr Institutes funded by MRC, BBMRI-LPC (European Union Seventh Framework Programme: I3 grant). The Lifelines Cohort Study, and generation and management of genomewide association studies genotype data for the Lifelines Cohort Study, is supported by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research NWO (grant 175.010.2007.006), the Economic Structure Enhancing Fund (FES) of the Dutch government, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Sports, the Northern Netherlands Collaboration of Provinces (SNN), the Province of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, the University of Groningen, Dutch Kidney Foundation and Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation. Lifelines is a facility that is open for all researchers. Information on application and data access procedures is summarised at UK Biobank was established by the Wellcome Trust medical charity, MRC, Dept of Health, Scottish Government and the Northwest Regional Development Agency. It has also had funding from the Welsh Assembly Government, British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK. The ESCAPE (European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects) project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2011) under grant agreement 211250. The MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health is funded by the MRC and Public Health England (PHE) (MR/L01341X/1). P. Elliott is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator and acknowledges support from the Imperial College Healthcare National Health Service Trust and Imperial College London Biomedical Research Centre, the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit on the Health Effects of Environmental Hazards (HPRU-2012-10030-KCL), and the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health. Funding information for this article has been deposited with the Open Funder Registry.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright ©ERS 2017.


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