Background: Mortality in non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis (NCFB) is known to be influenced by a number of factors such as gender, age, smoking history and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, but the impact of traffic related air pollution indicators on NCFB mortality is unknown.
Methods: We followed 183 patients aged 18 to 65 years with a HRCT proven diagnosis of NCFB and typical symptoms, who had visited the outpatient clinic at the University Hospital of Leuven, Belgium, between June 2006 and October 2012. We estimated hazard ratios (HR) for mortality in relation to proximity of the home to major roads and traffic load, adjusting for relevant covariables (age, gender, disease severity, chronic macrolide use, smoking history, socioeconomic status and Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonization status).
Results: Fifteen out of the 183 included patients died during the observation period. Residential proximity to a major road was associated with the risk of dying with a HR 0.28 (CI 95% 0.10-0.77; p = 0.013) for a tenfold increase in distance to a major road. Mortality was also associated with distance-weighted traffic density within 100 meters (HR for each tenfold increase in traffic density 3.80; CI 95% 1.07-13.51; p = 0.04) and 200 meters from the patient's home address (HR for each tenfold increase in traffic density 4.14; CI 95% 1.13-15.22; p = 0.032).
Conclusion: Traffic-related air pollution appears to increase the risk of dying in patients with NCFB.
Trial registration: The study was approved by the local ethical committee of the UZ Leuven, Belgium (ML-5028), registered at ClinicalTrial.gov (NCT01906047).