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Study Suggests Season and Sociodemographic Factors Modify Health Effects of Air Pollution in Shanghai

A study in Shanghai, China on various modifiers, and their effects on outdoor air pollution and daily mortality rates indicates that air pollutant levels are higher in the cool season than in the warm season (except for ozone, which is higher in the warm season), and that females, the elderly, and the disadvantaged are more vulnerable to the effects of outdoor air pollution overall.

The four-year study, reported in the September, 2008 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), found the effects of air pollution were generally greater in residents with low educational attainment, compared with those with high educational attainment, defined as middle school or above.

Nine urban districts in China’s most populated city, Shanghai, were targeted for this study from 2001 to 2004, which included 6.3 million subjects. The study found no significant effects of air pollution in residents 5 to 64 years of age. However, among residents 65 years of age and older, the effects were significant, and approximately 2 to 5 times higher than among people in younger age groups. In the whole-period analyses, outdoor air pollution was associated with mortality from all causes and from cardiopulmonary diseases in Shanghai.

“Socioeconomic (SES) factors such as educational attainment may modify the health effects of outdoor air pollution because of several factors, including a higher prevalence of pre-existing diseases, inferior medical treatment, disadvantaged living conditions, poor diet, and lack of available air conditioning,” wrote study authors.

EHP editor-in-chief Hugh A. Tilson, PhD said, “This study may have set the stage for examining the long-term implications for developing environmental and social policy, assessing risk and setting standards in developing countries.”

Study authors include Haidong Kan, Stephanie J. London, Guohai Chen, Yunhui Zhng, Guixiang Song, Naiqing Zhao, Lili Jiang, and Bingheng Chen.

The article is available free of charge at

EHP is published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. EHP is an Open Access journal. More information is available online at Brogan & Partners Convergence Marketing handles marketing and public relations for the publication, and is responsible for creation and distribution of this press release.

Julie Hayworth-Perman | Newswise Science News
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