Does ambient CO have protective effect for COPD patient?

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Existing studies found paradoxical effects of carbon monoxide (CO) on human health. Carbon monoxide (CO), at high concentrations, is a well-known toxicant, but recent studies suggest that CO at low concentrations may have protective health effects under certain conditions.


To investigate the acute effect of ambient CO on hospital admission for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Shanghai, China.


Daily data on COPD admissions and CO concentrations between 2006 and 2008 were collected. We applied over-dispersed generalized additive Poisson models, adjusted for weather conditions, day of the week and public holidays, long-term and seasonal trends.


During the study period, the average CO concentration was 1.3 mg/m3, well below the international health-based standard. Negative associations were found between ambient CO concentration and daily COPD hospitalization. An interquartile range increase (0.6 mg/m3) in CO concentration at lag 3 day corresponded to −2.97% (95% confidence interval: −4.63%, −1.31%) change in COPD hospitalization. The negative associations were robust after adjustment for co-pollutants (PM10, NO2 and SO2). The protective effect of CO appeared to be more evident in the cool season.


Short-term exposure to CO at low ambient concentration may be associated with reduced risk of COPD hospitalization. Our results may contribute to a comprehensive understanding on the health effects of ambient CO.

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