Are air quality perception and PM2.5 exposure differently associated with cardiovascular and respiratory disease mortality in Brussels? Findings from a census-based study

Terhi Kangas, Sylvie Gadeyne, Wouter Lefebvre, Charlotte Vanpoucke, Lucia Rodriguez Loureiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: There is ample evidence that air pollution increases mortality risk, but most studies are based on modelled estimates of air pollution, while the subjective perception of air quality is scarcely assessed. We aimed to compare the effects of objective and subjective exposure to air pollution on cardiorespiratory mortality in Brussels, Belgium. Methods: Data consisted of the 2001 Belgian census linked to registry-based mortality data for the follow-up period 2001–2014. We included individuals aged >30 years of age residing in Brussels at baseline (2001). Air pollution exposure was assessed with objective (modelled annual mean concentrations of PM 2.5 in micrograms per cubic metre, μg/m 3) and subjective indicators (poor self-reported air quality perception in the census). We used Cox Proportional Hazard models with age as the underlying time scale to evaluate associations with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and respiratory disease mortality, and separately, ischaemic heart disease (IHD), cerebrovascular disease, and COPD excluding asthma mortality. We specified single- and two-exposure models and evaluated effect modification by neighbourhood unemployment rate. Results: 437,340 individuals were included at baseline. During follow-up (2001–2014), 22,821 (5%) individuals had died from CVDs and 8572 (2%) from respiratory diseases. In single-exposure models, PM 2.5 was significantly associated with an increased risk in CVD and IHD mortality (e.g. for IHD, per 5 μg/m 3 increase: Hazard Ratio, HR:1.22, 95%CI:1.08–1.37), and poor air quality perception with COPD excluding asthma mortality (HR:1.23, 95%CI:1.15–1.33). Associations remained significant in the two-exposure models, and additionally, perception was associated with respiratory disease mortality. Associations became gradually stronger with increasing neighbourhood unemployment rate [e.g. in the highest, Q3: PM 2.5 and cerebrovascular disease mortality (HR:1.53, 95%CI:1.04–2.24)]. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that objective and subjective exposure to air pollution increased the risk of dying from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases respectively in Brussels. These results encourage policies reducing pollution load in Brussels whilst considering socio-economic inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115180
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume219
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation (INNOVIRIS), project number: 2019-ANTICIPATE-26100 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.

Copyright:
Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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