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Stroke. 2007 Mar;38(3):918-22. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Associations of fine and ultrafine particulate air pollution with stroke mortality in an area of low air pollution levels.

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  • 1Environmental Epidemiology Unit , Kuopio, Finland.



Daily variation in outdoor concentrations of inhalable particles (PM(10) <10 microm in diameter) has been associated with fatal and nonfatal stroke. Toxicological and epidemiological studies suggest that smaller, combustion-related particles are especially harmful. We therefore evaluated the effects of several particle measures including, for the first time to our knowledge, ultrafine particles (<0.1 microm) on stroke.


Levels of particulate and gaseous air pollution were measured in 1998 to 2004 at central outdoor monitoring sites in Helsinki. Associations between daily levels of air pollutants and deaths caused by stroke among persons aged 65 years or older were evaluated in warm and cold seasons using Poisson regression.


There was a total of 1304 and 1961 deaths from stroke in warm and cold seasons, respectively. During the warm season, there were positive associations of stroke mortality with current- and previous-day levels of fine particles (<2.5 microm, PM(2.5)) (6.9%; 95% CI, 0.8% to 13.8%; and 7.4%; 95% CI, 1.3% to 13.8% for an interquartile increase in PM(2.5)) and previous-day levels of ultrafine particles (8.5%; 95% CI, -1.2% to 19.1%) and carbon monoxide (8.3; 95% CI, 0.6 to 16.6). Associations for fine particles were mostly independent of other pollutants. There were no associations in the cold season.


Our results suggest that especially PM(2.5), but also ultrafine particles and carbon monoxide, are associated with increased risk of fatal stroke, but only during the warm season. The effect of season might be attributable to seasonal differences in exposure or air pollution mixture.

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