Objective: To investigate the relationship between the daily number of deaths, weather and ambient air pollution.
Method: An ecological study. We assembled daily data for the city of Christchurch, New Zealand (population 300,000) from June 1988 to December 1993. We used Poisson regression models, controlling for season using a parametric method.
Results: Above the third quartile (20.5 degrees C) of maximum temperature, an increase of 1 degree C was associated with a 1% (95% CI: 0.4 to 2.1%) increase in all-cause mortality and a 3% (0.1 to 6.0%) increase in respiratory mortality. An increase in PM10 of 10 micrograms/m3 was associated (after a lag of one day) with a 1% (0.5 to 2.2%) increase in all-cause mortality and a 4% (1.5 to 5.9%) increase in respiratory mortality. We found no evidence of interaction between the effects of temperature and particulate air pollution.
Conclusions: High temperatures and particulate air pollution are independently associated with increased daily mortality in Christchurch. The fact that these results are consistent with those of similar studies in other countries strengthens the argument that the associations are likely to be causal.
Implications: These findings contribute to evidence of health consequences of fuel combustion, both in the short term (from local air pollution) and in the long term (from the global climatic effects of increased atmospheric CO2).