The APHEA 2 project investigated short-term health effects of particles in eight European cities. In each city associations between particles with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 10 microm (PM(10)) and black smoke and daily counts of emergency hospital admissions for asthma (0-14 and 15-64 yr), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and all-respiratory disease (65+ yr) controlling for environmental factors and temporal patterns were investigated. Summary PM(10) effect estimates (percentage change in mean number of daily admissions per 10 microg/m(3) increase) were asthma (0-14 yr) 1.2% (95% CI: 0.2, 2.3), asthma (15-64 yr) 1.1% (0.3, 1.8), and COPD plus asthma and all-respiratory (65+ yr) 1.0% (0.4, 1.5) and 0.9% (0.6, 1.3). The combined estimates for Black Smoke tended to be smaller and less precisely estimated than for PM(10). Variability in the sizes of the PM(10) effect estimates between cities was also investigated. In the 65+ groups PM(10) estimates were positively associated with annual mean concentrations of ozone in the cities. For asthma admissions (0-14 yr) a number of city-specific factors, including smoking prevalence, explained some of their variability. This study confirms that particle concentrations in European cities are positively associated with increased numbers of admissions for respiratory diseases and that some of the variation in PM(10) effect estimates between cities can be explained by city characteristics.
Misclassification of exposure related to the use of central sites may be larger for ultrafine particles than for particulate matter 1 year. Daily concentrations of particle number, PM(2.5) and PM(10) were measured at a central site in each city and both inside and outside the subjects' homes.
Daily average particle number concentrations ranged between 2100 and 66 100 particles/cm(3). We found no association between 24 h average particle number or particle mass concentrations and FVC, FEV(1) and PEF. Substituting home outdoor or home indoor concentrations of particulate air pollution instead of the central site measurements did not change the observed associations. Analyses restricted to asthmatics also showed no associations.
No consistent associations between lung function and 24 h average particle number or particle mass concentrations were found in panels of patients with mild to moderate COPD or asthma. More detailed exposure assessment did not change the observed associations. The lack of association could be due to the high prevalence of medication use, limited ability to assess lagged effects over several days or absence of an effect.