As the largest developing country, China has some of the worst air quality in the world. Heavy smog in January 2013 led to unprecedented public concern about the health impact of exposure to particulate matter. Conducting health impact assessments of particulate matter has thus become an urgent task for public health practitioners. Combined estimates of the health effects of exposure to particulate matter from quantitative reviews could provide vital information for epidemiology-based health impact assessments, but estimates for the Chinese population are limited.Methods:
On December 31, 2013, we systematically searched the PubMed, Web of Science, and China National Knowledge Infrastructure databases using as keywords names of 127 major cities in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. From among the 1464 articles identified, 59 studies were manually screened. Random-effects or fixed-effects models were used to combine their risk estimates, the funnel plots with Egger test were performed to evaluate the publication bias and Meta regression were run to explore the association between exposure to particulate matter with aerodynamic diameters less than 10 and 2.5 μm (PM10 and PM2.5) and the resulting health effects by the Comprehensive Meta Analysis.Results:
In terms of short-term effects, the combined excess risks of total non-accidental mortality, mortality due to cardiovascular disease, and mortality due to respiratory disease were 0.36% (95% confidence interval [95%CI]: 0.26%, 0.46%), 0.36% (95%CI: 0.24%, 0.49%), and 0.42% (95%CI: 0.28%, 0.55%), for each 10 μg/m3 increase in PM10. A 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 was associated with a 0.40% (95%CI: 0.22%, 0.59%) increase in total non-accidental mortality, a 0.63% (95%CI: 0.35%, 0.91%) increase in mortality due to cardiovascular disease, and a 0.75% (95%CI: 01.39%, 1.11%) increase in mortality due to respiratory disease. For constituent-specific mortality, increases of 0.40–3.11% were associated with an increase of 10 ng/m3 for nickel in PM. The summary estimate ranges of hospital utilization were 0.08% ˜0.72% and –0.58% ˜1.32% for a 10 μg/m3 increase in PM10 and PM2.5. In terms of long-term effects, a 10 μg/m3 increase of PM10 corresponded to 23–67% increase in the risk of mortality.Conclusion:
Short exposures to PM10 and PM2.5 are associated with increases in mortality, but evidence of constituent-associated health effects, long-term effects and morbidity in China is still inadequate.