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Associations between short-term exposure to ambient air pollution and lung function in adults

Abstract

Background

Evidence of the acute effects of high-level air pollution on small airway function and systemic inflammation in adults is scarce.

Objective

To examined the associations of short-term (i.e., daily) exposure to multiple air pollutants with lung function and inflammatory markers.

Methods

We assessed short-term (daily) effects of air pollutants, including particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) and 10 μm (PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon monoxide (CO), on lung function and peripheral immune cell counts over various lag times using generalized linear regression models.

Results

A total of 4764 adults were included from the general community-dwelling population in Shanghai, China. Exposure to air pollutants and lung function were negatively correlated. Decline in FEF between 25% and 75% of vital capacity (FEF25–75%) were found associated with PM2.5, SO2, and CO, and decline in forced expiratory volume in 3 s (FEV3) to forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio were associated with all examined pollutants, indicating obstruction in small airways. Obstructed airflow in large and middle airways as indicated by decline in FEV1/FVC were also associated with all pollutants. In subgroup analysis, significant negative associations between the five pollutants and SAD parameters were found only in males but not in females. The difference in the associations of SO2 with FEF75% between males and females achieved statistical significance. Additionally, all examined pollutants were significantly associated with lower peripheral neutrophil count.

Impact statement

  • Acute exposure to air pollutants were associated with airflow-limitation.

  • Both small airways and proximal airways were affected.

  • Acute exposure to air pollutants were accompanied with a lower neutrophil count.

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Fig. 1: Estimated effects of acute exposure to air pollutants on lung function in adults.
Fig. 2: Associations of acute exposure to air pollution with lung function varied by sex.
Fig. 3: Associations of acute exposure to air pollution with lung function in ever-smokers and never-smokers.
Fig. 4: Associations of acute exposure to air pollution with lung function varied by age.
Fig. 5: Associations of white blood cell, neutrophil, and eosinophil counts with acute air pollution exposure.

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Data availability

The datasets used and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Funding

This study was supported by National key R&D plan (2020YFC2003700, 2022YFC3703000), The National Natural Science Foundation of China (81800008, 82041003), Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (20DZ2261200, 20Z11901000, 20XD1401200), Shanghai Municipal Health Commission and Shanghai Municipal Administrator of Traditional Chinese Medicine(ZY(2021-2023)-0207-01), and Shanghai Municipal Key Clinical Specialty (shslczdzk02201).

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Authors

Contributions

TW contributed substantially to data collection, patient management, statistical analysis and interpretation, and the writing of the manuscript. CC performed guided the design and contributed substantially to data collection, patient management, statistical analysis, and interpretation. YY, LL, JW, and MY contributed to the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data; HK contributed to study design, exposure assessment, and statistical analysis and interpretation. DY contributed to study design, statistical analysis and interpretation, and the writing of the manuscript. YS contributed to administrative, technical, and material support and to critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content. JC contributed to study design, exposure assessment, statistical analysis and interpretation and the writing of the manuscript. DH contributed substantially to the study design, data collection, statistical analysis and interpretation, and the writing of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. The corresponding authors had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jing Cai or Dongni Hou.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The ethics committee of Beijing Capital Medical University approved the study (No. 11-ke-42), and all participants signed informed consent.

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Wei, T., Chen, C., Yang, Y. et al. Associations between short-term exposure to ambient air pollution and lung function in adults. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-023-00550-0

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