The 14th International Congress on Combustion By-Products and Their Health Effects was held in Ume?, Sweden from June 14th to 17th, 2015. The Congress, mainly sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, focused on the "Origin, fate and health effects of combustion-related air pollutants in the coming era of bio-based energy sources". The international delegates included academic and government researchers, engineers, scientists, policymakers and representatives of industrial partners. The Congress provided a unique forum for the discussion of scientific advances in this research area since it addressed in combination the health-related issues and the environmental implications of combustion by-products. The scientific outcomes of the Congress included the consensus opinions that: (a) there is a correlation between human exposure to particulate matter and increased cardiac and respiratory morbidity and mortality; (b) because currently available data does not support the assessment of differences in health outcomes between biomass smoke and other particulates in outdoor air, the potential human health and environmental impacts of emerging air-pollution sources must be addressed. Assessment will require the development of new approaches to characterize combustion emissions through advanced sampling and analytical methods. The Congress also concluded the need for better and more sustainable e-waste management and improved policies, usage and disposal methods for materials containing flame retardants.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed during incomplete combustion. Domestic wood burning and road traffic are the major sources of PAHs in Sweden. In Stockholm, the sum of 14 different PAHs is 100-200 ng/m(3) at the street-level site, the most abundant being phenanthrene. Benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) varies between 1 and 2 ng/m(3). Exposure to PAH-containing substances increases the risk of cancer in humans. The carcinogenicity of PAHs is associated with the complexity of the molecule, i.e., increasing number of benzenoid rings, and with metabolic activation to reactive diol epoxide intermediates and their subsequent covalent binding to critical targets in DNA. B[a]P is the main indicator of carcinogenic PAHs. Fluoranthene is an important volatile PAH because it occurs at high concentrations in ambient air and because it is an experimental carcinogen in certain test systems. Thus, fluoranthene is suggested as a complementary indicator to B[a]P. The most carcinogenic PAH identified, dibenzo[a,l]pyrene, is also suggested as an indicator, although it occurs at very low concentrations. Quantitative cancer risk estimates of PAHs as air pollutants are very uncertain because of the lack of useful, good-quality data. According to the World Health Organization Air Quality Guidelines for Europe, the unit risk is 9 X 10(-5) per ng/m(3) of B[a]P as indicator of the total PAH content, namely, lifetime exposure to 0.1 ng/m(3) would theoretically lead to one extra cancer case in 100,000 exposed individuals. This concentration of 0.1 ng/m(3) of B[a]P is suggested as a health-based guideline. Because the carcinogenic potency of fluoranthene has been estimated to be approximately 20 times less than that of B[a]P, a tentative guideline value of 2 ng/m(3) is suggested for fluoranthene. Other significant PAHs are phenanthrene, methylated phenanthrenes/anthracenes and pyrene (high air concentrations), and large-molecule PAHs such as dibenz[a,h]anthracene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, and indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene (high carcinogenicity). Additional source-specific indicators are benzo[ghi]perylene for gasoline vehicles, retene for wood combustion, and dibenzothiophene and benzonaphthothiophene for sulfur-containing fuels.
The ongoing program Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) is an initiative from the EU Commission to establish a coordinated effort to reach better air quality in the EU. The focus is on particulate matter as it has been shown to have large impact on human health. CAFE requested that WHO make a review of the latest findings on air pollutants and health to facilitate assessments of the different air pollutants and their health effects. The WHO review project on health aspects of air pollution in Europe confirmed that exposure to particulate matter (PM), despite the lower levels we face today, still poses a significant risk to human health. Using the recommended uniform risk coefficients for health impact assessment of PM, regardless of sources, premature mortality related to long-range transported anthropogenic particles has been estimated to be about 3500 deaths per year for the Swedish population, corresponding to a reduction in life expectancy of up to about seven months. The influence of local sources is more difficult to estimate due to large uncertainties when linking available risk coefficients to exposure data, but the estimates indicate about 1800 deaths brought forward each year with a life expectancy reduction of about 2-3 months. However, some sectors of the population are exposed to quite high locally induced concentrations and are likely to suffer excessive reductions in life expectancy. Since the literature increasingly supports assumptions that combustion related particles are associated with higher relative risks, further studies may shift the focus for abatement strategies. CAFE sets out to establish a general cost effective abatement strategy for atmospheric particles. Our results, based on studies of background exposure, show that long-range transported sulfate rich particles dominate the health effects of PM in Sweden. The same results would be found for the whole of Scandinavia and many countries influenced by transboundary air pollution. However, several health studies, including epidemiological studies with a finer spatial resolution, indicate that engine exhaust particles are more damaging to health than other particles. These contradictory findings must be understood and source specific risk estimates have to be established by expert bodies, otherwise it will not be possible to find the most cost effective abatement strategy for Europe. We are not happy with today's situation where every strategy to reduce PM concentrations is estimated to have the same impact per unit change in the mass concentration. Obviously there is a striking need to introduce more specific exposure variables and a higher geographical resolution in epidemiology as well as in health impact assessments.
It is not clear whether Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) results will be different 1 or 2 years after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction.
To investigate within individual patients enrolled in the Swedish National Knee Ligament Register whether there is equivalence between KOOS at 1 and 2 years after primary ACL reconstruction.
Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.
This cohort study was based on data from the Swedish National Knee Ligament Register during the period January 1, 2005, through December 31, 2013. The longitudinal KOOS values for each individual at the 1- and 2-year follow-up evaluations were assessed through the two one-sided test (TOST) procedure with an acceptance criterion of 4. Subset analysis was performed with patients classified by sex, age, graft type, and type of injury (meniscal and/or cartilage injury).
A total of 23,952 patients were eligible for analysis after exclusion criteria were applied (10,116 women, 42.2%; 13,836 men, 57.8%). The largest age group was between 16 and 20 years of age (n = 6599; 27.6%). The most common ACL graft was hamstring tendon (n = 22,504; 94.0%), of which the combination of semitendinosus and gracilis was the most common. A total of 7119 patients reported on the KOOS Pain domain at both 1- and 2-year follow-ups, with a mean difference of 0.21 (13.1 SD, 0.16 SE [90% CI, -0.05 to 0.46], P
Although serious health effects associated with particulate matter (PM) with aerodynamic diameter = 10 µm (PM10) and = 2.5 µm (PM(2.5); fine fraction) are documented in many studies, the effects of coarse PM (PM(2.5-10)) are still under debate.
In this study, we estimated the effects of short-term exposure of PM(2.5-10) on daily mortality in Stockholm, Sweden.
We collected data on daily mortality for the years 2000 through 2008. Concentrations of PM10, PM(2.5), ozone, and carbon monoxide were measured simultaneously in central Stockholm. We used additive Poisson regression models to examine the association between daily mortality and PM2.5-10 on the day of death and the day before. Effect estimates were adjusted for other pollutants (two-pollutant models) during different seasons.
We estimated a 1.68% increase [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.20%, 3.15%] in daily mortality per 10-µg/m³ increase in PM(2.5-10) (single-pollutant model). The association with PM(2.5-10) was stronger for November through May, when road dust is most important (1.69% increase; 95% CI: 0.21%, 3.17%), compared with the rest of the year (1.31% increase; 95% CI: -2.08%, 4.70%), although the difference was not statistically significant. When adjusted for other pollutants, particularly PM(2.5), the effect estimates per 10 µg/m³ for PM(2.5-10) decreased slightly but were still higher than corresponding effect estimates for PM(2.5).
Our analysis shows an increase in daily mortality associated with elevated urban background levels of PM(2.5-10). Regulation of PM(2.5-10) should be considered, along with actions to specifically reduce PM(2.5-10) emissions, especially road dust suspension, in cities.
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The most important anthropogenic sources of primary particulate matter (PM) in ambient air in Europe are exhaust and non-exhaust emissions from road traffic and combustion of solid biomass. There is convincing evidence that PM, almost regardless of source, has detrimental health effects. An important issue in health impact assessments is what metric, indicator and exposure-response function to use for different types of PM. The aim of this study is to describe sectorial contributions to PM exposure and related premature mortality for three Swedish cities: Gothenburg, Stockholm and Umea. Exposure is calculated with high spatial resolution using atmospheric dispersion models. Attributed premature mortality is calculated separately for the main local sources and the contribution from long-range transport (LRT), applying different relative risks. In general, the main part of the exposure is due to LRT, while for black carbon, the local sources are equally or more important. The major part of the premature deaths is in our assessment related to local emissions, with road traffic and residential wood combustion having the largest impact. This emphasizes the importance to resolve within-city concentration gradients when assessing exposure. It also implies that control actions on local PM emissions have a strong potential in abatement strategies.
Particle emissions from residential wood combustion in small communities in Northern Sweden can sometimes increase the ambient particle concentrations to levels comparable to densely trafficked streets in the center of large cities. The reason for this is the combination of increased need for domestic heating during periods of low temperatures, leading to higher emission rates, and stable meteorological conditions. In this work, the authors compare two different approaches to quantify the wood combustion contribution to fine particles in Northern Sweden: a multivariate source-receptor analysis on inorganic compounds followed by multiple linear regression (MLR) of fine particle concentrations and levoglucosan used as a tracer. From the receptor model, it can be seen that residential wood combustion corresponds with 70% of modeled particle mass. Smaller contributions are also seen from local nonexhaust traffic particles, road dust, and brake wear (each contributing 14%). Of the mass, 1.5% is explained by long-distance transported particles, and 2% derives from a regional source deriving from either oil combustion or smelter activities. In samples collected in ambient air, a significant linear correlation was found between wood burning particles and levoglucosan. The levoglucosan fraction in the ambient fine particulate matter attributed to wood burning according to the multivariate analysis ranged from
Current literature suggests that in the long-term, fusion of the lumbar spine in chronic low back pain (CLBP) does not result in an outcome clearly better than structured conservative treatment modes.
This study aimed to assess the long-term outcome of lumbar fusion in CLBP, and also to assess methodological problems in long-term randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
A prospective randomized study was carried out.
A total of 294 patients (144 women and 150 men) with CLBP of at least 2 years' duration were randomized to lumbar fusion or non-specific physiotherapy. The mean follow-up time was 12.8 years (range 9-22). The follow up rate was 85%; exclusion of deceased patients resulted in a follow-up rate of 92%.
Global Assessment (GA) of back pain, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), visual analogue scale (VAS) for back and leg pain, Zung depression scale were determined. Work status, pain medication, and pain frequency were also documented.
Standardized outcome questionnaires were obtained before treatment and at long-term follow-up. To optimize control for group changers, four models of data analysis were used according to (1) intention to treat (ITT), (2) "as treated" (AT), (3) per protocol (PP), and (4) if the conservative group automatically classify group changers as unchanged or worse in GA (GCAC). The initial study was sponsored by Acromed (US$50,000-US$100,000).
Except for the ITT model, the GA, the primary outcome measure, was significantly better for fusion. The proportion of patients much better or better in the fusion group was 66%, 65%, and 65% in the AT, PP, and GCAC models, respectively. In the conservative group, the same proportions were 31%, 37%, and 22%, respectively. However, the ODI, VAS back pain, work status, pain medication, and pain frequency were similar between the two groups.
One can conclude that from the patient's perspective, reflected by the GA, lumbar fusion surgery is a valid treatment option in CLBP. On the other hand, secondary outcome measures such as ODI and work status, best analyzed by the PP model, indicated that substantial disability remained at long-term after fusion as well as after conservative treatment. The lack of objective outcome measures in CLBP and the cross-over problem transforms an RCT to an observational study, that is, Level 2 evidence. The discrepancy between the primary and secondary outcome measures prevents a strong conclusion on whether to recommend fusion in non-specific low back pain.
Comment In: Spine J. 2016 May;16(5):588-9027261844
A planned 21?km bypass (18?km within a tunnel) in Stockholm is expected to reduce ambient air exposure to traffic emissions, but same time tunnel users could be exposed to high concentrations of pollutants. For the health impacts calculations in 2030, the change in annual ambient NOX and PM10 exposure of the general population was modelled in 100 × 100?m(2) grids for Greater Stockholm area. The tunnel exposure was estimated based on calculated annual average NOX concentrations, time spent in tunnel and number of tunnel users. For the general population, we estimate annually 23.7 (95% CI: 17.7-32.3) fewer premature deaths as ambient concentrations are reduced. At the same time, tunnel users will be exposed to NOX levels up to 2000?µg/m(-3). Passing through the whole tunnel two times on working days would correspond to an additional annual NOX exposure of 9.6?µg/m(3). Assuming that there will be ~55,000 vehicles daily each way and 1.3 persons of 30-74 years of age in each vehicle, we estimate the tunnel exposure to result in 20.6 (95% CI: 14.1-25.6) premature deaths annually. If there were more persons per vehicle, or older and vulnerable people travelling, or tunnel dispersion conditions worsen, the adverse effect would become larger.
In the aftermath of the Icelandic volcano Grimsvötn's eruption on 21 May 2011, volcanic ash reached Northern Europe. Elevated levels of ambient particles (PM) were registered in mid Sweden. The aim of the present study was to investigate if the Grimsvötn eruption had an effect on mortality in Sweden. Based on PM measurements at 16 sites across Sweden, data were classified into an ash exposed data set (Ash area) and an unexposed data set (No ash area). Data on daily all-cause mortality were obtained from Statistics Sweden for the time period 1 April through 31 July 2011. Mortality ratios were calculated as the ratio between the daily number of deaths in the Ash area and the No ash area. The exposure period was defined as the week following the days with elevated particle concentrations, namely 24 May through 31 May. The control period was defined as 1 April through 23 May and 1 June through 31 July. There was no absolute increase in mortality during the exposure period. However, during the exposure period the mean mortality ratio was 2.42 compared with 2.17 during the control period, implying a relatively higher number of deaths in the Ash area than in the No ash area. The differences in ratios were mostly due to a single day, 31 May, and were not statistically significant when tested with a Mann-Whitney non-parametric test (p > 0.3). The statistical power was low with only 8 days in the exposure period (24 May through 31 May). Assuming that the observed relative differences were not due to chance, the results would imply an increase of 128 deaths during the exposure period 24-31 May. If 31 May was excluded, the number of extra deaths was reduced to 20. The results of the present study are contradicting and inconclusive, but may indicate that all-cause mortality was increased by the ash-fall from the Grimsvötn eruption. Meta-analysis or pooled analysis of data from neighboring countries might make it possible to reach sufficient statistical power to study effects of the Grimsvötn ash on morbidity and mortality. Such studies would be of particular importance for European societies preparing for future large scale volcanic eruptions in Iceland.
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