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Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Oct;120(10):1411-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104108. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

Concentration-response function for ozone and daily mortality: results from five urban and five rural U.K. populations.

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  • 1Division of Population Health Sciences and Education and MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health, St George's, University of London, London, United Kingdom. atkinson@sgul.



Short-term exposure to ozone has been associated with increased daily mortality. The shape of the concentration-response relationship-and, in particular, if there is a threshold-is critical for estimating public health impacts.


We investigated the concentration-response relationship between daily ozone and mortality in five urban and five rural areas in the United Kingdom from 1993 to 2006.


We used Poisson regression, controlling for seasonality, temperature, and influenza, to investigate associations between daily maximum 8-hr ozone and daily all-cause mortality, assuming linear, linear-threshold, and spline models for all-year and season-specific periods. We examined sensitivity to adjustment for particles (urban areas only) and alternative temperature metrics.


In all-year analyses, we found clear evidence for a threshold in the concentration-response relationship between ozone and all-cause mortality in London at 65 µg/m3 [95% confidence interval (CI): 58, 83] but little evidence of a threshold in other urban or rural areas. Combined linear effect estimates for all-cause mortality were comparable for urban and rural areas: 0.48% (95% CI: 0.35, 0.60) and 0.58% (95% CI: 0.36, 0.81) per 10-µg/m3 increase in ozone concentrations, respectively. Seasonal analyses suggested thresholds in both urban and rural areas for effects of ozone during summer months.


Our results suggest that health impacts should be estimated across the whole ambient range of ozone using both threshold and nonthreshold models, and models stratified by season. Evidence of a threshold effect in London but not in other study areas requires further investigation. The public health impacts of exposure to ozone in rural areas should not be overlooked.

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