Context: Associations have been found between day-to-day particulate air pollution and increased risk of various adverse health outcomes, including cardiopulmonary mortality. However, studies of health effects of long-term particulate air pollution have been less conclusive.
Objective: To assess the relationship between long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution and all-cause, lung cancer, and cardiopulmonary mortality.
Design, setting, and participants: Vital status and cause of death data were collected by the American Cancer Society as part of the Cancer Prevention II study, an ongoing prospective mortality study, which enrolled approximately 1.2 million adults in 1982. Participants completed a questionnaire detailing individual risk factor data (age, sex, race, weight, height, smoking history, education, marital status, diet, alcohol consumption, and occupational exposures). The risk factor data for approximately 500 000 adults were linked with air pollution data for metropolitan areas throughout the United States and combined with vital status and cause of death data through December 31, 1998.
Main outcome measure: All-cause, lung cancer, and cardiopulmonary mortality.
Results: Fine particulate and sulfur oxide--related pollution were associated with all-cause, lung cancer, and cardiopulmonary mortality. Each 10-microg/m(3) elevation in fine particulate air pollution was associated with approximately a 4%, 6%, and 8% increased risk of all-cause, cardiopulmonary, and lung cancer mortality, respectively. Measures of coarse particle fraction and total suspended particles were not consistently associated with mortality.
Conclusion: Long-term exposure to combustion-related fine particulate air pollution is an important environmental risk factor for cardiopulmonary and lung cancer mortality.