Short-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and daily mortality in London, UK

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. Mar-Apr 2016;26(2):125-32. doi: 10.1038/jes.2015.65. Epub 2015 Oct 14.


Epidemiological studies have linked daily concentrations of urban air pollution to mortality, but few have investigated specific traffic sources that can inform abatement policies. We assembled a database of >100 daily, measured and modelled pollutant concentrations characterizing air pollution in London between 2011 and 2012. Based on the analyses of temporal patterns and correlations between the metrics, knowledge of local emission sources and reference to the existing literature, we selected, a priori, markers of traffic pollution: oxides of nitrogen (general traffic); elemental and black carbon (EC/BC) (diesel exhaust); carbon monoxide (petrol exhaust); copper (tyre), zinc (brake) and aluminium (mineral dust). Poisson regression accounting for seasonality and meteorology was used to estimate the percentage change in risk of death associated with an interquartile increment of each pollutant. Associations were generally small with confidence intervals that spanned 0% and tended to be negative for cardiovascular mortality and positive for respiratory mortality. The strongest positive associations were for EC and BC adjusted for particle mass and respiratory mortality, 2.66% (95% confidence interval: 0.11, 5.28) and 2.72% (0.09, 5.42) per 0.8 and 1.0 μg/m(3), respectively. These associations were robust to adjustment for other traffic metrics and regional pollutants, suggesting a degree of specificity with respiratory mortality and diesel exhaust containing EC/BC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / analysis
  • Carbon / adverse effects
  • Carbon / analysis
  • Carbon Monoxide / adverse effects
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cities
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • London / epidemiology
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Particle Size
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Registries
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality*
  • Soot / adverse effects
  • Soot / analysis
  • Temperature


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Soot
  • Carbon
  • Carbon Monoxide