Associations Between Ambient Air Pollution and Daily Mortality Among Elderly Persons in Montreal, Quebec

Sci Total Environ. 2013 Oct 1;463-464:931-42. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.06.095. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


Background: Persons with underlying health conditions may be at higher risk for the short-term effects of air pollution. We have extended our original mortality time series study in Montreal, Quebec, among persons 65 years of age and older, for an additional 10 years (1990-2003) to assess whether these associations persisted and to investigate new health conditions.

Methods and results: We created subgroups of subjects diagnosed with major health conditions one year before death using billing and prescription data from the Quebec Health Insurance Plan. We used parametric log-linear Poisson models within the distributed lag non-linear models framework, that were adjusted for long-term temporal trends and daily maximum temperature, for which we assessed associations with NO2, O3, CO, SO2, and particles with aerodynamic diameters 2.5 μm in diameter or less (PM2.5). We found positive associations between daily non-accidental mortality and all air pollutants but O3 (e.g., for a cumulative effect over a 3-day lag, with a mean percent change (MPC) in daily mortality of 1.90% [95% confidence interval: 0.73, 3.08%] for an increase of the interquartile range (17.56 μg m(-3)) of NO2). Positive associations were found amongst persons having cardiovascular disease (cumulative MPC for an increase equal to the interquartile range of NO2=2.67%), congestive heart failure (MPC=3.46%), atrial fibrillation (MPC=4.21%), diabetes (MPC=3.45%), and diabetes and cardiovascular disease (MPC=3.50%). Associations in the warm season were also found for acute and chronic coronary artery disease, hypertension, and cancer. There was no persuasive evidence to conclude that there were seasonal associations for cerebrovascular disease, acute lower respiratory disease (defined within 2 months of death), airways disease, and diabetes and airways disease.

Conclusions: These data indicate that individuals with certain health conditions, especially those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and cancer, may be susceptible to the short-term effects of air pollution.

Keywords: Ambient air pollution; Atrial fibrillation; CI; CO; Cardiovascular disease; Diabetes mellitus; ICD9; MPC; NO(2); Ninth revision of the International Classification of Diseases; O(3); PM(10), PM(2.5); QAIC; Respiratory disease; SO(2); TEOM; Time series study; carbon monoxide; confidence interval; degrees of freedom; df; distributed lag non-linear models; dlnm; mean percent change; nitrogen dioxide; ozone; particles having aerodynamic diameters of 10μm or under and 2.5μm or under, respectively; quasi-Akaike Information Criterion; sulfur dioxide; tapered element oscillating microbalance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / mortality
  • Coronary Artery Disease / mortality
  • Diabetes Mellitus / mortality
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / mortality
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Seasons
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Weather