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This study used harmonized data across two of the largest cohorts in Europe (the UK Biobank and the LifeLines Cohort Study) to perform pooled analyses exploring cross-sectional associations between ambient air pollution exposure and self-reported wheeze and shortness of breath. Results showed that exposure to outdoor particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide air pollution was associated with the prevalence of wheeze and shortness of breath, with stronger associations between fine particulates and both symptoms among lower- vs. higher-income participants. To our knowledge, this is the largest study on air pollution and respiratory symptoms to date.
Associations between air pollution and respiratory health in large European cohorts
This project will examine associations between exposure to common ambient air pollutants and respiratory health among participants of large population-based studies in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Research questions for this project are:
(1) What is the effect of exposure to particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on pulmonary function?
(2) Do study participants living in areas with higher concentrations of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) show higher rates of respiratory medication use and respiratory symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath? There is mounting evidence showing associations between air pollution exposure and adverse cardiovascular and respiratory health effects. However, associations between common air pollutants such as particulate matter and nitrogen dioxdide and pulmonary function, respiratory symptoms and respiratory medication use are not well understood. Research is therefore needed to better understand the effect that air pollution has (if any) on respiratory health and pulmonary function decline. Better understanding these effects is in the public interest given the high health care costs related to respiratory morbidity and mortality. This project involves harmonizing and combining data from two of Europe?s largest population health studies, the LifeLines Cohort Study & Biobank and UK Biobank, in order to:
(1) Explore associations between PM/NO2 exposure at place of residence and pulmonary function and,
(2) Explore the effect of PM/NO2 exposure at place of residence on prevalence respiratory symptoms (e.g. wheezing and shortness of breath) and respiratory medication use.
Pulmonary function, medication use, respiratory symptoms and confounding variables will be obtained from baseline assessments. Modeled air pollution measures at place of residence will be linked to these data for analyses. All UK Biobank participants 18 years and older having completed the pulmonary function test and for which data requested has been cleaned and validated should be included in the dataset.
Dr Dany Doiron
Research Institute McGill University Health Centre