Synoptic weather patterns and modification of the association between air pollution and human mortality

Int J Environ Health Res. 2005 Oct;15(5):347-60. doi: 10.1080/09603120500289119.


To assess whether meteorological conditions modify the relationship between short-term exposure to ambient air pollution and mortality, an examination of air pollution and human mortality associations (ecologic) using hybrid spatial synoptic classification procedures was conducted. Concentrations of air pollutants and human mortality from all non-accidental and cardiorespiratory causes were examined according to typical winter and summer synoptic climatologies in Toronto, Canada, between 1981 and 1999. Air masses were derived using a hybrid spatial synoptic classification procedure associating each day over the 19-year period with one of six different typical weather types, or a transition between two weather types. Generalized linear models (GLMs) were used to assess the risk of mortality from air pollution within specific air mass type subsets. Mortality follows a distinct seasonal pattern with a maximum in winter and a minimum in summer. Average air pollution concentrations were similar in both seasons with the exception of elevated sulfur dioxide levels in winter and elevated ozone levels in summer. Subtle changes in meteorological composition can alter the strength of pollutant associations with health outcomes, especially in the summer season. Although there does not appear to be any systematic patterning of modification, variation in pollutant concentrations seems dependent on the type of synoptic category present.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Canada
  • Carbon Monoxide / toxicity
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cities
  • Dust
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Mortality*
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / toxicity
  • Ozone / toxicity
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality
  • Seasons
  • Sulfur Dioxide / toxicity
  • Weather


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dust
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Ozone
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Nitrogen Dioxide