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Environ Int. 2018 Jul;116:18-28. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.04.002. Epub 2018 Apr 7.

An approach estimating the short-term effect of NO2 on daily mortality in Spanish cities.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, National School of Public Health, Carlos III Institute of Health, Madrid, Spain. Electronic address:
Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, National School of Public Health, Carlos III Institute of Health, Madrid, Spain.



Road traffic is the most significant source of urban air pollution. PM2.5 is the air pollutant whose health effects have been most closely studied, and is the variable most commonly used as a proxy indicator of exposure to air pollution, whereas evidence on NO2 concentrations per se is still under study. In the case of Spain, there are no specific updated studies which calculate short-term NO2-related mortality.


To quantify the relative risks (RRs) and attributable risks (ARs) of daily mortality associated with NO2 concentrations recorded in Spain across the study period, 2000-2009; and to calculate the number of NO2-related deaths.


We calculated daily mortality due to natural causes (ICD-10: A00 R99), circulatory causes (ICD-10: I00 I99) and respiratory causes (ICD-10: J00 J99) for each province across the period 2000-2009, using data supplied by the National Statistics Institute. Mean daily NO2 concentrations in μg/m3 for each provincial capital were furnished by the Ministry of Agriculture & Environment, along with the equivalent figures for the control pollutants (PM10). To estimate RRs and ARs, we used generalised linear models with a Poisson link, controlling for maximum and minimum daily temperature, trend of the series, seasonalities, and the autoregressive nature of the series. A meta-analysis with random effects was used to estimate RRs and ARs nationwide.


The overall RRs obtained for Spain, corresponding to increases of 10 μg/m3 in NO2 concentrations were 1.012 (95% CI: 1.010 1.014) for natural-cause mortality, 1.028 (95% CI: 1.019 1.037) for respiratory-cause mortality, and 1.016 (95% CI: 1.012 1.021) for circulatory-cause mortality. This amounted to an annual overall 6085 deaths (95% CI: 3288 9427) due to natural causes, 1031 (95% CI: 466 1585) due to respiratory causes, and 1978 (95% CI: 828 3197) due to circulatory causes.


By virtue of the number of cities involved and the nature of the analysis performed, with quantification of the RRs and ARs of the short-term impact of NO2 on daily mortality in Spain, this study provides an updated estimate of the effect had by this type of pollutant on causes of mortality, and constitutes an important basis for reinforcing public health measures at a national level.

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