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May 2016 Environmental research

Air pollution, health and social deprivation: A fine-scale risk assessment.


Morelli X, Rieux C, Cyrys J, Forsberg B, Slama R


Risk assessment studies often ignore within-city variations of air pollutants. Our objective was to quantify the risk associated with fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure in 2 urban areas using fine-scale air pollution modeling and to characterize how this risk varied according to social deprivation. In Grenoble and Lyon areas (0.4 and 1.2 million inhabitants, respectively) in 2012, PM2.5 exposure was estimated on a 10×10m grid by coupling a dispersion model to population density. Outcomes were mortality, lung cancer and term low birth weight incidences. Cases attributable to air pollution were estimated overall and stratifying areas according to the European Deprivation Index (EDI), taking 10µg/m(3) yearly average as reference (counterfactual) level. Estimations were repeated assuming spatial homogeneity of air pollutants within urban area. Median PM2.5 levels were 18.1 and 19.6μg/m(3) in Grenoble and Lyon urban areas, respectively, corresponding to 114 (5.1% of total, 95% confidence interval, CI, 3.2-7.0%) and 491 non-accidental deaths (6.0% of total, 95% CI 3.7-8.3%) attributable to long-term exposure to PM2.5, respectively. Attributable term low birth weight cases represented 23.6% of total cases (9.0-37.1%) in Grenoble and 27.6% of cases (10.7-42.6%) in Lyon. In Grenoble, 6.8% of incident lung cancer cases were attributable to air pollution (95% CI 3.1-10.1%). Risk was lower by 8 to 20% when estimating exposure through background stations. Risk was highest in neighborhoods with intermediate to higher social deprivation. Risk assessment studies relying on background stations to estimate air pollution levels may underestimate the attributable risk.

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