Meta-analysis of time-series studies of air pollution and mortality: effects of gases and particles and the influence of cause of death, age, and season

J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2002 Apr;52(4):470-84. doi: 10.1080/10473289.2002.10470794.


A comprehensive, systematic synthesis was conducted of daily time-series studies of air pollution and mortality from around the world. Estimates of effect sizes were extracted from 109 studies, from single- and multipollutant models, and by cause of death, age, and season. Random effects pooled estimates of excess all-cause mortality (single-pollutant models) associated with a change in pollutant concentration equal to the mean value among a representative group of cities were 2.0% (95% CI 1.5-2.4%) per 31.3 microg/m3 particulate matter (PM) of median diameter < or = 10 microm (PM10); 1.7% (1.2-2.2%) per 1.1 ppm CO; 2.8% (2.1-3.5%) per 24.0 ppb NO2; 1.6% (1.1-2.0%) per 31.2 ppb O3; and 0.9% (0.7-1.2%) per 9.4 ppb SO2 (daily maximum concentration for O3, daily average for others). Effect sizes were generally reduced in multipollutant models, but remained significantly different from zero for PM10 and SO2. Larger effect sizes were observed for respiratory mortality for all pollutants except O3. Heterogeneity among studies was partially accounted for by differences in variability of pollutant concentrations, and results were robust to alternative approaches to selecting estimates from the pool of available candidates. This synthesis leaves little doubt that acute air pollution exposure is a significant contributor to mortality.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Particle Size
  • Seasons


  • Air Pollutants