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Epidemiology. 2014 Sep;25(5):648-57. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000136.

Elemental composition of particulate matter and the association with lung function.

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From the aInstitute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; bDepartment of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland; cUniversity of Basel, Basel, Switzerland; dKarolinska Institute, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden; eCentre for Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom; fJulius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands; gUniversity of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Institute of Inflammation and Repair, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom; hHelmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Epidemiology II, Neuherberg, Germany; iUniversity of Augsburg, Environmental Science Center, Augsburg, Germany; jHelmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Epidemiology I, Neuherberg, Germany; kSchool of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; lIUF Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany; mMedical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany; nMRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom; oTNO, Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands; pUniversity of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, GRIAC Research Institute and Department of Pediatric Pulmonology and Pediatric Allergology, Beatrix Children's Hospital, Groningen, The Netherlands; qAir Quality & Sustainable Nanotechnology, IUTA e.V., and CENIDE at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany; and rDepartment of Environmental and Occupational Health



Negative effects of long-term exposure to particulate matter (PM) on lung function have been shown repeatedly. Spatial differences in the composition and toxicity of PM may explain differences in observed effect sizes between studies.


We conducted a multicenter study in 5 European birth cohorts-BAMSE (Sweden), GINIplus and LISAplus (Germany), MAAS (United Kingdom), and PIAMA (The Netherlands)-for which lung function measurements were available for study subjects at the age of 6 or 8 years. Individual annual average residential exposure to copper, iron, potassium, nickel, sulfur, silicon, vanadium, and zinc within PM smaller than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) and smaller than 10 μm (PM10) was estimated using land-use regression models. Associations between air pollution and lung function were analyzed by linear regression within cohorts, adjusting for potential confounders, and then combined by random effects meta-analysis.


We observed small reductions in forced expiratory volume in the first second, forced vital capacity, and peak expiratory flow related to exposure to most elemental pollutants, with the most substantial negative associations found for nickel and sulfur. PM10 nickel and PM10 sulfur were associated with decreases in forced expiratory volume in the first second of 1.6% (95% confidence interval = 0.4% to 2.7%) and 2.3% (-0.1% to 4.6%) per increase in exposure of 2 and 200 ng/m, respectively. Associations remained after adjusting for PM mass. However, associations with these elements were not evident in all cohorts, and heterogeneity of associations with exposure to various components was larger than for exposure to PM mass.


Although we detected small adverse effects on lung function associated with annual average levels of some of the evaluated elements (particularly nickel and sulfur), lower lung function was more consistently associated with increased PM mass.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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