Urban climate modified short-term association of air pollution with pneumonia mortality in Hong Kong

Sci Total Environ. 2019 Jan 1;646:618-624. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.311. Epub 2018 Jul 23.


Background: City is becoming warmer, especially in the process of urbanization and climate change. However, it is largely unknown whether this warming urban climate may modify the short-term effects of air pollution.

Objectives: To test whether warmer urban climates intensify the acute mortality effects of air pollution on pneumonia in Hong Kong.

Methods: Participants who died of pneumonia from a prospective Chinese elderly cohort between 1998 and 2011 were selected as cases. Urban climatic (UC) classes of cases were determined by an established Urban Climatic Map according to their residential addresses. UC classes were first dichotomized into cool and warm climates and case-crossover analysis was used to estimate the short-term association of pneumonia mortality with air pollution. We further classified UC classes into climate quartiles and used case-only analysis to test the trend of urban climate modification on the short-term association of pneumonia mortality with air pollution.

Results: Among 66,820 elders (≥65 years), 2208 pneumonia deaths (cases) were identified during the 11-14 years of follow-up. The effects of air pollution for cases residing in the warm climate were statistically significant (p < 0.05) higher than those living in the cool climate. There was an increasing linear trend of urban climate modification on the association of pneumonia mortality with NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) (p for trend = 0.035). Compared to climate Quartile 1 (the lowest), deaths resided in climate Quartile 2, 3, and 4 (the highest) were associated with an additional percent change of 9.07% (0.52%, 17.62%), 12.89% (4.34%, 21.43%), and 8.45% (-0.10%, 17.00%), respectively.

Conclusions: Warmer urban climate worsened the acute mortality effects of pneumonia associated with air pollutants in Hong Kong. Our findings suggest that warmer urban climate introduced by climate change and urbanization may increase the risks of air pollution-related pneumonia.

Keywords: Air pollution; Case-crossover study; Case-only study; Nested case-control study; Pneumonia; Urban climate map.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cities
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mortality
  • Pneumonia / mortality*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Air Pollutants