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Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Apr;119(4):501-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1002511. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

Long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and the risk of coronary heart disease hospitalization and mortality.

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School of Environmental Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



Epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that exposure to road traffic is associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes.


We aimed to identify specific traffic-related air pollutants that are associated with the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) morbidity and mortality to support evidence-based environmental policy making.


This population-based cohort study included a 5-year exposure period and a 4-year follow-up period. All residents 45-85 years of age who resided in Metropolitan Vancouver during the exposure period and without known CHD at baseline were included in this study (n=452,735). Individual exposures to traffic-related air pollutants including black carbon, fine particles [aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 µm (PM(2.5))], nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)), and nitric oxide were estimated at residences of the subjects using land-use regression models and integrating changes in residences during the exposure period. CHD hospitalizations and deaths during the follow-up period were identified from provincial hospitalization and death registration records.


An interquartile range elevation in the average concentration of black carbon (0.94 × 10(-5)/m filter absorbance, equivalent to approximately 0.8 µg/m(3) elemental carbon) was associated with a 3% increase in CHD hospitalization (95% confidence interval, 1-5%) and a 6% increase in CHD mortality (3-9%) after adjusting for age, sex, preexisting comorbidity, neighborhood socioeconomic status, and copollutants (PM(2.5) and NO(2)). There were clear linear exposure-response relationships between black carbon and coronary events.


Long-term exposure to traffic-related fine particulate air pollution, indicated by black carbon, may partly explain the observed associations between exposure to road traffic and adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

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