Objectives: The number of studies investigating the health effects of long-term exposure to air pollution is increasing, however, most studies have been conducted in Western countries. The health status of Asian populations may be different to that of Western populations and may, therefore, respond differently to air pollution exposure. Thus, we evaluated the health effects of long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution in Shizuoka, Japan.
Methods: Individual data were extracted from participants of an ongoing cohort study. A total of 14,001 elderly residents, who were randomly chosen from all 74 municipalities of Shizuoka, completed questionnaires and were followed from December 1999 to March 2006. Individual nitrogen dioxide exposure data, as an index for traffic-related exposure, were modeled using a Land Use Regression model. We assigned participants an estimated concentration of nitrogen dioxide exposure during 2000-2006. We then estimated the adjusted hazard ratios and their confidence intervals for a 10 μg/m3 increase in exposure to nitrogen dioxide for all-cause or cause-specific mortality.
Results: The adjusted hazard ratio for all-cause mortality was 1.02 (95% confidence interval: 0.96-1.08). Regarding cause-specific mortality, the adjusted hazard ratio for cardiopulmonary mortality was 1.16 (95% confidence interval: 1.06-1.26); in particular the adjusted hazard ratio for ischemic heart disease mortality was 1.27 (95% confidence interval: 1.02-1.58) and for pulmonary disease mortality it was 1.19 (95% confidence interval: 1.02-1.38). Furthermore, among non-smokers, a 10 μg/m3 increase in NO2 was associated with a higher risk for lung cancer mortality (hazard ratio =1.30, 95% confidence interval: 0.85-1.93).
Conclusion: Long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution, indexed by NO2 concentration, increases the risk of cardiopulmonary mortality, even in a population with a relatively low BMI and increases the risk of lung cancer mortality in non-smokers.
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