Lung function and long term exposure to air pollutants in Switzerland. Study on Air Pollution and Lung Diseases in Adults (SAPALDIA) Team

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1997 Jan;155(1):122-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.155.1.9001300.


The effect of long-term exposure to air pollutants was studied in a cross-sectional population-based sample of adults (aged 18 to 60 yr; n = 9,651) residing in eight different areas in Switzerland. Standardized medical examination included questionnaire data, lung function tests, skin-prick testing, and end-expiratory CO concentration. The impact of annual means of air pollutants on FVC and FEV1 was tested (controlling for age and age squared, sex, height, weight, educational level, nationality, and workplace exposure). Analyses were done separately for healthy never-smokers, ex-smokers (controlling for pack-yr), for current smokers (controlling for cigarettes per day and pack-yr smoked), and for the whole population. Significant and consistent effects on FVC and FEV1 were found for NO2, SO2, and particulate matter < 10 microm (PM10) in all subgroups and in the total population, with PM10 showing the most consistent effect of a 3.4% change in FVC per 10 microg/m3. Results for ozone were less consistent. Atopy did not influence this relationship. The limited number of study areas and high intercorrelation between the pollutants make it difficult to assess the effect of one single pollutant. Our conclusion is that air pollution from fossil fuel combustion, which is the main source of air pollution with SO2, NO2, and PM10 in Switzerland, is associated with decrements in lung function parameters in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Ozone / adverse effects
  • Ozone / analysis
  • Respiratory Mechanics*
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Sulfur Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Switzerland
  • Time Factors
  • Vital Capacity


  • Air Pollutants
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Ozone
  • Nitrogen Dioxide