Long-term exposure to low air pollutant concentrations and hospitalisation for respiratory diseases in older men: A prospective cohort study in Perth, Australia

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Abstract

Background
Acute exposure to ambient air pollution even at low concentrations has been associated with increased hospitalisation for respiratory diseases but the effects of long-term exposure are less certain. In this study, we investigated the associations between long-term exposures to PM2.5, PM2.5 absorbance and NO2 and hospitalisation for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia in a cohort of older men living in Perth, Western Australia, a city where the levels of air pollutants are well below the world standards.

Materials and methods
The study population of 11,156 men with no prior hospitalisation for respiratory disease was drawn from the Health in Men Study (HIMS) cohort of men aged >65 years living in Perth, Western Australia between 1996-1999. PM2.5, PM2.5 absorbance (PM2.5a) and NO2 were measured across the Perth metropolitan area over three seasons in 2012. Land use regression (LUR) models were used to estimate annual concentrations of PM2.5, PM2.5 absorbance (PM2.5a) and NO2 at the residential address of each participant from inception (1996) to 2015. Hospitalisation for respiratory disease between inception and 2015 was ascertained using the Western Australian Data Linkage System. The association between exposure to air pollution with hospitalisation for respiratory disease was examined using Cox regression analysis.

Results
No statistically significant associations were observed in the fully adjusted models. However, positive associations were also observed with first hospitalisation for pneumonia (HR 1.08, 95% CI: 1.01–1.16) when adjusted for age, year of enrolment, smoking status, education, BMI and physical activity.

Conclusions
In this longitudinal study of older men we found no evidence of associations between increased long-term exposure to low-level air pollution with increased risk of hospitalisation for respiratory diseases in Perth, Australia. More studies on respiratory morbidity associated with exposure to low levels of air pollution are needed for more comprehensive understanding of the overall risk.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10905
JournalHeliyon
Volume8
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2022

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