Short-term associations between fine particulate air pollution and cardiovascular and respiratory mortality in 337 cities in Latin America

Sci Total Environ. 2024 Apr 10:920:171073. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.171073. Epub 2024 Feb 19.


Ambient air pollution is a health concern in Latin America given its large urban population exposed to levels above recommended guidelines. Yet no studies have examined the mortality impact of air pollutants in the region across a wide range of cities. We assessed whether short-term levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from modeled estimates, are associated with cardiovascular and respiratory mortality among adults in 337 cities from 9 Latin American countries. We compiled mortality, PM2.5 and temperature data for the period 2009-2015. For each city, we evaluated the association between monthly changes in PM2.5 and cardiovascular and respiratory mortality for sex and age subgroups using Poisson models, adjusted for seasonality, long-term trend, and temperature. To accommodate possibly different associations of mortality with PM2.5 by age, we included interaction terms between changes in PM2.5 and age in the models. We combined the city-specific estimates using a random effects meta-regression to obtain mortality relative risks for each sex and age group. We analyzed 3,026,861 and 1,222,623 cardiovascular and respiratory deaths, respectively, from a study population that represents 41 % of the total population of Latin America. We observed that a 10 μg/m3 increase in monthly PM2.5 is associated with an increase of 1.3 % (95 % confidence interval [CI], 0.4 to 2.2) in cardiovascular mortality and a 0.9 % increase (95 % CI -0.6 to 2.4) in respiratory mortality. Increases in mortality risk ranged between -0.5 % to 3.0 % across 6 sex-age groups, were larger in men, and demonstrated stronger associations with cardiovascular mortality as age increased. Socioeconomic, environmental and health contexts in Latin America are different than those present in higher income cities from which most evidence on air pollution impacts is drawn. Locally generated evidence constitutes a powerful instrument to engage civil society and help drive actions to mitigate and control ambient air pollution.

Keywords: Air pollution; Cardiovascular mortality; Particulate matter; Respiratory mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Air Pollution* / analysis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cities
  • Dust
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Dust