Short-term exposure to ultrafine particles and mortality and hospital admissions due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in Copenhagen, Denmark

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Ultrafine particles (UFP; particulate matter <0.1 μm in diameter) may be more harmful to human health than larger particles, but epidemiological evidence on their health effects is still limited. In this study, we examined the association between short-term exposure to UFP and mortality and hospital admissions in Copenhagen, Denmark. Daily concentrations of UFP (measured as particle number concentration in a size range 11-700 nm) and meteorological variables were monitored at an urban background station in central Copenhagen during 2002-2018. Daily counts of deaths from all non-accidental causes, as well as deaths and hospital admissions from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases were obtained from Danish registers. Mortality and hospital admissions associated with an interquartile range (IQR) increase in UFP exposure on a concurrent day and up to six preceding days prior to the death or admission were examined in a case-crossover study design. Odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) per one IQR increase in UFP were estimated after adjusting for temperature and relative humidity. We observed 140,079 deaths in total, 236,003 respiratory and 342,074 cardiovascular hospital admissions between 2002 and 2018. Hospital admissions due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases were significantly positively associated with one IQR increase in UFP (OR: 1.04 [95% CI: 1.01, 1.07], lag 0-4, and 1.02 [1.00, 1.04], lag 0-1, respectively). Among the specific causes, the strongest associations were found for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) mortality and asthma hospital admissions and two-day means (lag 0-1) of UFP (OR: 1.13 [1.01, 1.26] and 1.08 [1.00, 1.16], respectively, per one IQR increase in UFP). Based on 17 years of UFP monitoring data, we present novel findings showing that short-term exposure to UFP can trigger respiratory and cardiovascular diseases mortality and morbidity in Copenhagen, Denmark. The strongest associations with UFP were observed with COPD mortality and asthma hospital admissions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122396
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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