Associations between short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide and mortality in 17 Chinese cities: the China Air Pollution and Health Effects Study (CAPES)

Environ Int. 2012 Sep 15;45:32-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2012.04.008. Epub 2012 May 8.


Few multi-city studies in Asian developing countries have examined the acute health effects of ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)). In the China Air Pollution and Health Effects Study (CAPES), we investigated the short-term association between NO(2) and mortality in 17 Chinese cities. We applied two-stage Bayesian hierarchical models to obtain city-specific and national average estimates for NO(2). In each city, we used Poisson regression models incorporating natural spline smoothing functions to adjust for long-term and seasonal trend of mortality, as well as other time-varying covariates. We examined the associations by age, gender and education status. We combined the individual-city estimates of the concentration-response curves to get an overall NO(2)-mortality association in China. The averaged daily concentrations of NO(2) in the 17 Chinese cities ranged from 26 μg/m(3) to 67 μg/m(3). In the combined analysis, a 10-μg/m(3) increase in two-day moving averaged NO(2) was associated with a 1.63% [95% posterior interval (PI), 1.09 to 2.17], 1.80% (95% PI, 1.00 to 2.59) and 2.52% (95% PI, 1.44 to 3.59) increase of total, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality, respectively. These associations remained significant after adjustment for ambient particles or sulfur dioxide (SO(2)). Older people appeared to be more vulnerable to NO(2) exposure. The combined concentration-response curves indicated a linear association. Conclusively, this largest epidemiologic study of NO(2) in Asian developing countries to date suggests that short-term exposure to NO(2) is associated with increased mortality risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • China
  • Cities / statistics & numerical data
  • Developing Countries
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis*
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / toxicity
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Sulfur Dioxide / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Nitrogen Dioxide