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Short-Term Effects of Air Pollution on Oxygen Saturation in a Cohort of Senior Adults in Steubenville, Ohio

Luttmann-Gibson, Heike PhD; Sarnat, Stefanie Ebelt ScD; Suh, Helen H. ScD; Coull, Brent A. PhD; Schwartz, Joel PhD; Zanobetti, Antonella PhD; Gold, Diane R. MD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000089
Original Articles

Objective: We examine whether ambient air pollution is associated with oxygen saturation in 32 elderly subjects in Steubenville, Ohio.

Methods: We used linear mixed models to examine the effects of fine particulate matter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5), sulfate (SO42−), elemental carbon, and gases on median oxygen saturation.

Results: An interquartile range increase of 13.4 μg/m3 in PM2.5 on the previous day was associated with a decrease of −0.18% (95% confidence interval: −0.31 to −0.06) and a 5.1 μg/m3 interquartile range increase in SO42− on the previous day was associated with a decrease of −0.16% (95% confidence interval: −0.27 to −0.04) in oxygen saturation during the initial 5-minute rest period of the protocol.

Conclusions: Increased exposure to air pollution, including the nontraffic pollutant SO42− from industrial sources, led to changes in oxygen saturation that may reflect particle-induced pulmonary inflammatory or vascular responses.

Author Information

From the Departments of Environmental Health (Drs Luttmann-Gibson, Sarnat, Suh, Schwartz, Zanobetti, and Gold) and Biostatistics (Dr Coull), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass; Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (Dr Sarnat), Emory University, Atlanta, Ga; Department of Health Sciences (Dr Suh), Northeastern University, Boston, Mass; and Channing Laboratory (Drs Schwartz and Gold), Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.

Address correspondence to: Heike Luttmann-Gibson, PhD, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Landmark Bldg, Ste 415 W, PO Box 15677, 401 Park Dr, Boston, MA 02215 (

This work was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (ES-09825 and ES-00002), the US Environmental Protection Agency (R826780-01-0 and R827353-01-0), the Ohio Coal Development Office (CDO/D-98-2), and the US Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory Award no. DE-FC26-00NT40771.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Department of Energy. None of the authors have a financial relationship with a commercial entity that has an interest in the subject of this manuscript.

Authors Luttmann-Gibson, Sarnat, Suh, Coull, Schwartz, Zanobetti, and Gold have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine