Traffic-related PM2.5 and its specific constituents on circulatory mortality: A nationwide modelling study in China

Du, Peng; Du, Hang; Lu, Kailai; He, Mike Zhongyu; Feng, Da; He, Miao; Liu, Ting; Hu, Jianlin; Li, Tiantian

Background: Short-term fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure and increased circulatory mortality have been well documented. However, there are inconsistent findings on mortality effects of traffic-related pollutants from the perspective of sources or constituents. Few studies have examined such associations using source and constituents simultaneously, and even less are based on large-scale, nationally representative data. We aimed to conduct a comprehensive analysis to investigate source- and constituent-specific mortality effects due to traffic-related PM2.5 pollution in China.

Methods: We extracted daily mortality data in 280 counties from the China Disease Surveillance Points system (DSPs) from January 2013 to December 2018. Daily concentrations of traffic-related PM2.5 and specific constituents were simulated using the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model. The downscaling and adjustment methods were carried out to generate a refined exposure assessment. We estimated the circulatory mortality risk using a standard two-stage approach, combining generalized linear model (GLM) with a quasi-Poisson distribution and random-effects meta-analysis.

Results: We observed that traffic-related PM2.5 and specific constituents were significantly associated with increased circulatory mortality. An increase of interquartile range of traffic-related PM2.5, elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC), and nitrate (NO3−) were associated with elevated circulatory mortality risks of 1.80 % (95 % confidence interval, CI: 1.27, 2.33), 1.85 % (1.33, 2.37), 1.42 % (0.90, 1.94), and 1.10 % (0.55, 1.66) at 3-day moving average (lag 0-2 days), respectively. We also found relatively high associations between traffic-related PM2.5 and EC exposures and cardiovascular mortality, and OC exposure and cerebrovascular mortality. Moreover, our stratified analysis demonstrated such mortality risks tended to be stronger in males, individuals age 65 years or older, and during the cold season.

Conclusion: Our findings provided robust evidence on significant associations of traffic-related PM2.5 and specific constituents with circulatory mortality. Further emissions abatement from the transportation sector and corresponding pollutants should merit a particular focus in China.

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June 28, 2023