Background: Few multicity studies have addressed the health effects of ozone in China due to the scarcity of ozone monitoring data. A critical scientific and policy-relevant question is whether a threshold exists in the ozone-mortality relationship.
Methods: Using a generalized additive model and a univariate random-effects meta-analysis, this research evaluated the relationship between short-term ozone exposure and daily total mortality in seven cities of Jiangsu Province, China during 2013-2014. Spline, subset, and threshold models were applied to further evaluate whether a safe threshold level exists.
Results: This study found strong evidence that short-term ozone exposure is significantly associated with premature total mortality. A 10μg/m3 increase in the average of the current and previous days' maximum 8-h average ozone concentration was associated with a 0.55% (95% posterior interval: 0.34%, 0.76%) increase of total mortality. This finding is robust when considering the confounding effect of PM2.5, PM10, NO2, and SO2. No consistent evidence was found for a threshold in the ozone-mortality concentration-response relationship down to concentrations well below the current Chinese Ambient Air Quality Standard (CAAQS) level 2 standard (160μg/m3).
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that ozone concentrations below the current CAAQS level 2 standard could still induce increased mortality risks in Jiangsu Province, China. Continuous air pollution control measures could yield important health benefits in Jiangsu Province, China, even in cities that meet the current CAAQS level 2 standard.
Keywords: Ambient ozone; China; Mortality; Threshold; Time-series.
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