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, 146, 85-91

Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Systemic Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease in Two Canadian Provinces


Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Systemic Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease in Two Canadian Provinces

Sasha Bernatsky et al. Environ Res.


Objective: To estimate the degree to which fine particulate (PM2.5) air pollution is associated with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARDs).

Methods: We used population-based administrative data from Alberta (1993-2007) and Quebec (1989-2011). SARD algorithms included ≥2 physician billing codes, or ≥1 rheumatology billing code, or ≥1 hospitalization diagnostic code (for systemic lupus, Sjogren's Syndrome, scleroderma, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, or undifferentiated connective tissue disease). Bayesian hierarchical latent class regression models estimated the probability that any given resident was a SARD case, based on the algorithms. Mean 2001-2006 residential ambient PM2.5 levels were assigned using satellite-derived data for dissemination area regions in Alberta and CLSC regions in Quebec. The sum of individual level probabilities provided the estimated total cases per region in each province, according to age, sex, urban-versus-rural residence, income, and PM2.5 levels. In Alberta, we ran separate models for First-Nations (FN) and non-First Nations subgroups. Bayesian logistic regression modeling generated odds ratio (OR) estimates for being a SARD case, accounting concurrently for demographics, as well as an interaction term between age and sex.

Results: Our data suggested that the probability of being a SARD case was higher among females versus males and for residents aged >45 versus younger, with the highest ORs for older females. Independently, the odds of being a SARDs case increased with PM2.5 levels in both provinces.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that PM2.5 exposure may be associated with an increased risk of SARDs.

Keywords: Autoimmune diseases; Environmental factors; Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

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