Objectives: The Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution and Lung Diseases in Adults (SAPALDIA) was designed to investigate the health effects from long-term exposure to air pollution.
Methods: The health assessment at recruitment (1991) and at the first reassessment (2001-3) consisted of an interview about respiratory health, occupational and other exposures, spirometry, a methacholine bronchial challenge test, end-expiratory carbon monoxide (CO) measurement and measurement for atopy. A bio bank for DNA and blood markers was established. Heart rate variability was measured using a 24-hour ECG (Holter) in a random sample of participants aged 50 years and older. Concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and particulates in ambient air have been monitored in all study areas since 1991. Residential histories collected over the 11 year follow-up period coupled with GIS modelling will provide individual long-term air pollutant exposure estimates.
Results: Of 9651 participants examined in 1991, 8715 could be traced for the cohort study and 283 died. Basic information about health status was obtained for 8047 individuals (86% of alive persons), 6 528 individuals (70%) agreed to the health examination and 5 973 subjects (62%) completed the entire protocol. Non-participants in the reassessment were on average younger than participants and more likely to have been smokers and to have reported respiratory symptoms in the first assessment. Average weight had increased by 5.5 kg in 11 years and 28% of smokers in 1991 had quit by the time of the reassessment.