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In one of the largest analyses to date, this study found that exposure to outdoor air pollution is linked to decreased lung function and an increased risk of developing COPD. While lung function normally declines as we age, we found that air pollution may contribute to the ageing process and adds to the evidence that breathing in polluted air harms the lungs. Results show that for each annual average increase of five micrograms per cubic meter of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution in the air that participants were exposed to at home, the associated reduction in lung function was similar to the effects of two years of ageing. For the same increment in exposure to PM2.5, there was a 52% increase in the odds of COPD.
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