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Int J Epidemiol. 2001 Oct;30(5):1138-40.

Particles, and not gases, are associated with the risk of death in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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  • 1Unit of Respiratory and Environmental Research, IMIM, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.



We aim to assess the independent association of particles, after controlling for gaseous pollutants, with the risk of death among a cohort of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Residents of Barcelona, aged over 35 years, who attended emergency room services for COPD exacerbation from 1985 to 1989 and who died in the period 1990-1995 (n = 2305) were selected. The analysis followed a case-crossover procedure with ambidirectional controls. Air pollution exposure (particulate matter <10 microm (PM(10)), ozone, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide) was measured at the city monitoring stations.


Levels of PM(10) (odds ratio for the interquartile difference = 1.11, 95% CI : 1.00- 1.24), but not gaseous pollutants, were associated with mortality for all causes of death after adjusting for meteorological variables and influenza epidemics. In the two-pollutant models, the association of mortality with PM(10) was not confounded by the inclusion of gases, while the association of gaseous pollutants was notably reduced after adjustment for particles. There was no interaction between particles and gaseous pollutants.


Findings reinforce the deleterious role of urban particles as a trigger of death in COPD patients, and suggest that they are the major culprit among the air pollutants. The role of other pollutants, if any, was additive and not multiplicative.

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