UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Air Pollution and Daily Mortality in a City with Low Levels of Pollution Vedal, Sverre; Brauer, Michael; White, Richard; Petkau, John


The concentration–response relationship between daily ambient inhalable particle (particulate matter ≤ 10 μm; PM₁₀) concentrations and daily mortality typically shows no evidence of a threshold concentration below which no relationship is observed. However, the power to assess a relationship at very low concentrations of PM₁₀ has been limited in studies to date. The concentrations of PM10 and other air pollutants in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from January 1994 through December 1996 were very low: the 50th and 90th percentiles of daily average PM₁₀ concentrations were 13 and 23 μg/m³, respectively, and 27 and 39 ppb, respectively, for 1-hr maximum ozone. Analyses of 3 years of daily pollution (PM₁₀, ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide) concentrations and mortality counts showed that the dominant associations were between ozone and total mortality and respiratory and cardiovascular mortality in the summer, and between nitrogen dioxide and total mortality in the winter, although some association with PM₁₀ may also have been present. We conclude that increases in low concentrations of air pollution are associated with increased daily mortality. These findings may support the notion that no threshold pollutant concentrations are present, but they also raise concern that these effects may not be effects of the measured pollutants themselves, but rather of some other factor(s) present in the air pollution–meteorology mix.

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