AsianScientist (May 4, 2015) – A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives reveals that the higher the level of PM2.5, the higher the mortality risk. This could provide scientific evidence for formulating air pollution related policies.
The effect of air pollution on one’s health is always a great concern. However, there are few related studies in Asia on this aspect. Now, a research team led by Dr. Wong Chit-ming, associate professor of the School of Public Health at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has conducted the first health effect study for long-term exposure to fine particles (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm, i.e. PM2.5) in Asia. The study included 66,820 participants aged 65 or older, who were enrolled and interviewed in all 18 Elderly Health Centers of the Department of Health in 1998-2001 and obtained the mortality outcomes of the 16,415 participants who had deceased during the period from enrollment until 2011, through record linkage to the death registry. It used the aerosol optical depth (AOD) data monitored by two US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellites to estimate PM2.5 concentrations in 1x1 km grids in all land areas of Hong Kong. The residential addresses of the participants were geo-coded and their exposures to PM2.5 were estimated. Through statistical modeling with adjustment for individual and area level confounding factors, the study found that each ten units (in μg/m3) increase in PM2.5 concentration was associated with excess mortality of 14 percent for all natural causes, 22 percent for cardiovascular causes, 42 percent for ischemic heart disease and 24 percent for cerebrovascular disease.
The findings show that residing in area with higher levels of PM2.5 is associated with excess mortality and corroborate the existing evidence for a causal relationship between adverse health outcomes and PM2.5. These research findings provide support for the formulation and implementation of policies for the mitigation of the air pollutant and its disease burden on the population.
“The study findings are of public health importance, particularly in Asia where air quality is poor and local data on long-term effects of PM2.5 to support policy on air quality management are scarce,” said Wong.
“The use of satellite data provides a readily accessible and affordable approach for estimation of a sufficient range of individual exposures in Hong Kong. This approach can expand the capacity to conduct environmental accountability studies in areas with few measurements of PM2.5.”
Source: The University of Hong Kong; Photo: Herry Lawford/Flickr/CC.
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