Ambient particulate matter air pollution exposure and mortality in the NIH-AARP diet and health cohort

George D. Thurston, Jiyoung Ahn, Kevin R. Cromar, Yongzhao Shao, Harmony R. Reynolds, Michael Jerrett, Chris C. Lim, Ryan Shanley, Yikyung Park, Richard B. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Outdoor fine particulate matter (≤ 2.5 μm; PM2.5) has been identified as a global health threat, but the number of large U.S. prospective cohort studies with individual participant data remains limited, especially at lower recent exposures. Objectives: We aimed to test the relationship between long-term exposure PM2.5 and death risk from all nonaccidental causes, cardiovascular (CVD), and respiratory diseases in 517,041 men and women enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP cohort. Methods: Individual participant data were linked with residence PM2.5 exposure estimates across the continental United States for a 2000–2009 follow-up period when matching census tract–level PM2.5 exposure data were available. Participants enrolled ranged from 50 to 71 years of age, residing in six U.S. states and two cities. Cox proportional hazard models yielded hazard ratio (HR) estimates per 10 μg/m3 of PM2.5 exposure. Results: PM2.5 exposure was significantly associated with total mortality (HR = 1.03; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.05) and CVD mortality (HR = 1.10; 95% CI: 1.05, 1.15), but the association with respiratory mortality was not statistically significant (HR = 1.05; 95% CI: 0.98, 1.13). A significant association was found with respiratory mortality only among never smokers (HR = 1.27; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.56). Associations with 10-μg/m3 PM2.5 exposures in yearly participant residential annual mean, or in metropolitan area-wide mean, were consistent with baseline exposure model results. Associations with PM2.5 were similar when adjusted for ozone exposures. Analyses of California residents alone also yielded statistically significant PM2.5mortality HRs for total and CVD mortality. Conclusions: Long-term exposure to PM2.5 air pollution was associated with an increased risk of total and CVD mortality, providing an independent test of the PM2.5–mortality relationship in a new large U.S. prospective cohort experiencing lower post-2000 PM2.5 exposure levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-490
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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