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Short-Term Exposure to Nitrogen Dioxide May Up Mortality Risk

FRIDAY, March 26, 2021 -- Short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is associated with an increased risk for total, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality, according to a study published online March 24 in The BMJ.

Xia Meng, Ph.D., from Fudan University in Shanghai, and colleagues examined the short-term associations between NO2 and total, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality in 398 cities from 22 low- to high-income countries/regions.

The researchers observed increases of 0.46, 0.37, and 0.47 percent in total, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality, respectively, in association with a 10 µg/m3 increase in NO2 concentration on lag 1 day (previous day) on average. After adjustment for copollutants (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤10 µm or ≤2.5 µm, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide), these associations remained robust. For all three causes, the pooled concentration-response curves were almost linear, with no discernable thresholds. Across the 398 cities, the proportion of deaths attributable to NO2 concentration above the counterfactual zero level was 1.23 percent.

"The concentration-response curves were linear without discernible thresholds, suggesting a need to revise and tighten the current air quality guidelines of NO2 for greater public health benefit, and to consider a regulation limit for daily mean NO2 concentration," the authors write. "These findings contribute to a better understanding of how to optimize public health actions and strategies to mitigate air pollution."

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