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The chronic impact of ambient air pollutants on lung function in adults is not fully understood. The objective of this study was to investigate the association of long-term exposure to ambient air pollution with lung function in adult participants from five cohorts in the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE). Residential exposure to nitrogen oxides (NO₂, NOx) and particulate matter (PM) was modelled and traffic indicators were assessed in a standardised manner. The spirometric parameters forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV₁) and forced vital capacity (FVC) from 7613 subjects were considered as outcomes. Cohort-specific results were combined using meta-analysis. We did not observe an association of air pollution with longitudinal change in lung function, but we observed that a 10 μg·m(-3) increase in NO₂ exposure was associated with lower levels of FEV₁ (-14.0 mL, 95% CI -25.8 to -2.1) and FVC (-14.9 mL, 95% CI -28.7 to -1.1). An increase of 10 μg·m(-3) in PM10, but not other PM metrics (PM2.5, coarse fraction of PM, PM absorbance), was associated with a lower level of FEV₁ (-44.6 mL, 95% CI -85.4 to -3.8) and FVC (-59.0 mL, 95% CI -112.3 to -5.6). The associations were particularly strong in obese persons. This study adds to the evidence for an adverse association of ambient air pollution with lung function in adults at very low levels in Europe.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Respir J

Publication Date





38 - 50


Adult, Aged, Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Environmental Exposure, Environmental Monitoring, Europe, Female, Forced Expiratory Volume, Humans, Lung, Male, Middle Aged, Multicenter Studies as Topic, Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate Matter, Respiratory Physiological Phenomena