Urban air pollution and lung cancer in Stockholm

F Nyberg, P Gustavsson, L Järup, T Bellander, N Berglind, R Jakobsson, G Pershagen
Epidemiology 2000, 11 (5): 487-95
We conducted a population-based case-control study among men 40-75 years of age encompassing all cases of lung cancer 1985-1990 among stable residents of Stockholm County 1950-1990. Questionnaires to subjects or next-of-kin (primarily wives or children) elicited information regarding smoking and other risk factors, including occupational and residential histories. A high response rate (>85%) resulted in 1,042 cases and 2,364 controls. We created retrospective emission databases for NOx/NO2 and SO2 as indicators of air pollution from road traffic and heating, respectively. We estimated local annual source-specific air pollution levels using validated dispersion models and we linked these levels to residential addresses using Geographical Information System (GIS) techniques. Average traffic-related NO2 exposure over 30 years was associated with a relative risk (RR) of 1.2 (95% confidence interval 0.8-1.6) for the top decile of exposure, adjusted for tobacco smoking, socioeconomic status, residential radon, and occupational exposures. The data suggested a considerable latency period; the RR for the top decile of average traffic-related NO2 exposure 20 years previously was 1.4 (1.0-2.0). Little association was observed for SO2. Occupational exposure to asbestos, diesel exhaust, and other combustion products also increased the risk of lung cancer. Our results indicate that urban air pollution increases lung cancer risk and that vehicle emissions may be particularly important.

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