Short-term effects of air pollution on total and cardiovascular mortality - The confounding effect of influenza epidemics

Umeå University, Umeå, Västerbotten, Sweden
Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 6.18). 02/2005; 16(1):49-57. DOI: 10.1097/01.ede.0000142152.62400.13
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Air pollution is associated with total mortality. This association may be confounded by uncontrolled time-varying risk factors such as influenza epidemics.
We analyzed independent data on influenza epidemics from 7 European cities that also had data on mortality associated with particulates (PM10). We used 10 methods to control for epidemics (5 derived from influenza data and 5 from respiratory mortality series) and compared those results with analyses that did not control for these epidemics.
Adjustment for influenza epidemics increased the PM10 effect estimate in most cases (% change in the pooled regression coefficient: -1.9 to 38.9 for total mortality and 1.3 to 25.5 for cardiovascular mortality). A 10-microg/m increase in PM10 concentrations (lag 0-1) was associated with a 0.48% (95% confidence interval=0.27-0.70%) increase in daily mortality unadjusted for influenza epidemics, whereas under the various methods to control for epidemics the increase ranged from 0.45% (0.26-0.69%) to 0.67% (0.46-0.89%). The corresponding figures for cardiovascular mortality were 0.85% (0.53-1.18%) with no adjustment and from 0.86% (0.53-1.19%) to 1.06% (0.74-1.39%) with the methods of control.
The association between air pollution and mortality is not weakened by control for influenza epidemic irrespective of the method used. To adjust for influenza epidemics, one can use methods based on respiratory mortality counts instead of counts of influenza cases if the latter are not available. However, adjustment for influenza by any method tested did not markedly alter the air pollution effect estimate.

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