Long-term residential exposure to PM2.5 constituents and mortality in a Danish cohort

Ulla Arthur Hvidtfeldt, Camilla Geels, Mette Sørensen, Matthias Ketzel, Jibran Khan, Anne Tjønneland, Jesper Heile Christensen, Jørgen Brandt, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Studies on health effects of long-term exposure to specific PM2.5 constituents are few. Previous studies have reported an association between black carbon (BC) exposure and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and a few studies have found an association between sulfate exposure and mortality. These studies, however, relied mainly on exposure data from centrally located air-monitoring stations, which is a crude approximation of personal exposure.

We focused on specific chemical constituents of PM2.5, i.e. elemental and primary organic carbonaceous particles (BC/OC), sea salt, secondary inorganic aerosols (SIA, i.e. NO3–, NH4+, and SO42-), and secondary organic aerosols (SOA), in relation to all-cause, CVD and respiratory disease mortality.

We followed a Danish cohort of 49,564 individuals from enrollment in 1993–1997 through 2015. We combined residential address history from 1979 onwards with mean annual air pollution concentrations obtained by the AirGIS air pollution modelling system, lifestyle information from baseline questionnaires and socio-demography obtained by register linkage.

During 895,897 person-years of follow-up, 10,193 deaths from all causes occurred – of which 2319 were CVD-related and 870 were related to respiratory disease. The 15-year time-weighted average concentrations of PM2.5, BC/OC, sea salt, SIA and SOA were 13.8, 2.8, 3.4, 4.9, and 0.3 µg/m3, respectively. For all-cause mortality, a higher risk was observed with higher exposure to PM2.5, BC/OC and SOA with adjusted hazard ratios of 1.03 (95% confidence intervals: 1.01, 1.05), 1.06 (1.03, 1.09), and 1.08 (1.03, 1.13) per interquartile range, respectively. The associations for BC/OC and SOA remained after adjustment for PM2.5 in two-pollutant models. For CVD mortality, we observed elevated risks with higher exposure to PM2.5, BC/OC and SIA. The results showed no clear relationship between sea salt and mortality.

In this study, we observed a relationship between long-term exposure to PM2.5, BC/OC, and SOA and all-cause mortality and between PM2.5, BC/OC, and SIA and CVD mortality.
TidsskriftEnvironment International
Udgave nummerB
StatusUdgivet - 2019


  • Particulate matter chemical constituents
  • carbonaceous particles
  • secondary inorganic aerosols
  • secondary organic aerosols
  • sea salt
  • mortality

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