Rationale: Ambient air pollution has been suggested as a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, there is a lack of longitudinal studies to support this assertion.
Objectives: To investigate the associations of long-term exposure to elevated traffic-related air pollution and woodsmoke pollution with the risk of COPD hospitalization and mortality.
Methods: This population-based cohort study included a 5-year exposure period and a 4-year follow-up period. All residents aged 45-85 years who resided in Metropolitan Vancouver, Canada, during the exposure period and did not have known COPD at baseline were included in this study (n = 467,994). Residential exposures to traffic-related air pollutants (black carbon, particulate matter <2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter, nitrogen dioxide, and nitric oxide) and woodsmoke were estimated using land-use regression models and integrating changes in residences during the exposure period. COPD hospitalizations and deaths during the follow-up period were identified from provincial hospitalization and death registration databases.
Measurements and main results: An interquartile range elevation in black carbon concentrations (0.97 × 10(-5)/m, equivalent to 0.78 μg/m(3) elemental carbon) was associated with a 6% (95% confidence interval, 2-10%) increase in COPD hospitalizations and a 7% (0-13%) increase in COPD mortality after adjustment for covariates. Exposure to higher levels of woodsmoke pollution (tertile 3 vs. tertile 1) was associated with a 15% (2-29%) increase in COPD hospitalizations. There were positive exposure-response trends for these observed associations.
Conclusions: Ambient air pollution, including traffic-related fine particulate pollution and woodsmoke pollution, is associated with an increased risk of COPD.