UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Systematic review and meta-analysis of case-crossover and time-series studies of short term outdoor nitrogen dioxide exposure and ischemic heart disease morbidity Stieb, David M; Zheng, Carine; Salama, Dina; BerjawI, Rania; Emode, Monica; Hocking, Robyn; Lyrette, Ninon; Matz, Carlyn; Lavigne, Eric; Shin, Hwashin H


Background: Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) is a pervasive urban pollutant originating primarily from vehicle emissions. Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is associated with a considerable public health burden worldwide, but whether NO₂ exposure is causally related to IHD morbidity remains in question. Our objective was to determine whether short term exposure to outdoor NO₂ is causally associated with IHD-related morbidity based on a synthesis of findings from case-crossover and time-series studies. Methods: MEDLINE, Embase, CENTRAL, Global Health and Toxline databases were searched using terms developed by a librarian. Screening, data extraction and risk of bias assessment were completed independently by two reviewers. Conflicts between reviewers were resolved through consensus and/or involvement of a third reviewer. Pooling of results across studies was conducted using random effects models, heterogeneity among included studies was assessed using Cochran’s Q and I² measures, and sources of heterogeneity were evaluated using meta-regression. Sensitivity of pooled estimates to individual studies was examined using Leave One Out analysis and publication bias was evaluated using Funnel plots, Begg’s and Egger’s tests, and trim and fill. Results: Thirty-eight case-crossover studies and 48 time-series studies were included in our analysis. NO₂ was significantly associated with IHD morbidity (pooled odds ratio from case-crossover studies: 1.074 95% CI 1.052–1.097; pooled relative risk from time-series studies: 1.022 95% CI 1.016–1.029 per 10 ppb). Pooled estimates for case-crossover studies from Europe and North America were significantly lower than for studies conducted elsewhere. The high degree of heterogeneity among studies was only partially accounted for in meta-regression. There was evidence of publication bias, particularly for case-crossover studies. For both case-crossover and time-series studies, pooled estimates based on multi-pollutant models were smaller than those from single pollutant models, and those based on older populations were larger than those based on younger populations, but these differences were not statistically significant. Conclusions: We concluded that there is a likely causal relationship between short term NO₂ exposure and IHD-related morbidity, but important uncertainties remain, particularly related to the contribution of co-pollutants or other concomitant exposures, and the lack of supporting evidence from toxicological and controlled human studies. An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via the original article. DOI 10.1186/s12940-020-00636-4

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