Main content area

Anemia prevalence and hemoglobin levels are associated with long-term exposure to air pollution in an older population

Honda, Trenton, Pun, Vivian C., Manjourides, Justin, Suh, Helen
Environment international 2017 v.101 pp. 125-132
Americans, C-reactive protein, World Health Organization, air pollution, air quality, anemia, blood, chronic exposure, cognition, data collection, dose response, drug therapy, education, elderly, environmental protection, erythropoiesis, functional status, hemoglobin, income, inflammation, men, models, mortality, nitrogen dioxide, particulates, pollutants, regression analysis, risk factors, socioeconomic status, variance, women
Anemia, a highly prevalent disorder in elderly populations, is associated with numerous adverse health outcomes, including increased mortality, impaired functional status and cognitive disorders. Approximately two-thirds of anemia in American elderly is caused by chronic inflammation or is unexplained. A potential contributing factor may include air pollution exposures, which have been shown to increase systemic inflammation and affect erythropoiesis. Few studies, however, have investigated the associations of air pollution on hemoglobin levels and anemia.We used linear regression models and modified Poisson regression with robust error variance to examine the associations of particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on hemoglobin concentrations and prevalence of anemia, respectively, among 4121 older Americans enrolled in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. We estimated participant-specific exposures to PM2.5 using spatio-temporal models, and to NO2 using nearest measurements from Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality System. Hemoglobin levels were measured for participants in each of two data collection waves from dried blood spots. Anemia was defined using World Health Organization hemoglobin-based criteria of <13 and <12g/dL for men and women, respectively. Models were adjusted for age, sex, smoking status, race, income, education, neighborhood socioeconomic status, region, urbanicity and medication use. Mediation by C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation, was also investigated.An inter-quartile range (IQR, 3.9μg/m3) increase in the one-year moving average PM2.5 was positively associated with anemia prevalence (prevalence ratio, or PR 1.33, 95% CI: 1.23, 1.45) and decreases in average hemoglobin of 0.81g/dL (p<0.001). Similarly, an IQR (9.6ppb) increase in NO2 was associated with anemia prevalence (PR 1.43, 95% CI: 1.25, 1.63) and a decrease in average hemoglobin of 0.81g/dL (p<0.001). Strong dose-response relationships were identified for both pollutants. Mediation of the effect of PM2.5 by CRP was also identified (p=0.007).Air pollution exposures were significantly associated with increased prevalence of anemia and decreased hemoglobin levels in a cohort of older Americans. If causal, these associations could indicate that chronic air pollution exposure is an important risk factor for anemia in older adults.