Historic air pollution exposure and Long-term mortality risks in England and Wales: Prospective longitudinal cohort study

Anna Hansell*, Rebecca E. Ghosh, Marta Blangiardo, Chloe Perkins, Danielle Vienneau, Kayoung Goffe, David Briggs, John Gulliver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: Long-term air pollution exposure contributes to mortality but there are few studies examining effects of very long-term (>25 years) exposures. Methods: This study investigated modelled air pollution concentrations at residence for 1971, 1981, 1991 (black smoke (BS) and SO2) and 2001 (PM10) in relation to mortality up to 2009 in 367 658 members of the longitudinal survey, a 1% sample of the English Census. Outcomes were all-cause (excluding accidents), cardiovascular (CV) and respiratory mortality. Results: BS and SO2 exposures remained associated with mortality decades after exposure-BS exposure in 1971 was significantly associated with all-cause (OR 1.02 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.04)) and respiratory (OR 1.05 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.09)) mortality in 2002-2009 (ORs expressed per 10 μg/m3). Largest effect sizes were seen for more recent exposures and for respiratory disease. PM10 exposure in 2001 was associated with all outcomes in 2002-2009 with stronger associations for respiratory (OR 1.22 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.44)) than CV mortality (OR 1.12 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.25)). Adjusting PM10 for past BS and SO2 exposures in 1971, 1981 and 1991 reduced the all-cause OR to 1.16 (95% CI 1.07 to 1.26) while CV and respiratory associations lost significance, suggesting confounding by past air pollution exposure, but there was no evidence for effect modification. Limitations include limited information on confounding by smoking and exposure misclassification of historic exposures. Conclusions: This large national study suggests that air pollution exposure has long-term effects on mortality that persist decades after exposure, and that historic air pollution exposures influence current estimates of associations between air pollution and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-338
Number of pages9
JournalThorax
Volume71
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding The work of the UK Small Area Health Statistics Unit is funded by Public Health England as part of the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, funded also by the UK Medical Research Council. The study also received support from a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship study on Chronic Health Effects on Smoke and Sulphur (CHESS), grant number 075883.

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