Short-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and ischemic stroke onset in Barcelona, Spain

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ObjectiveTo assess the relationship between short-term exposure to outdoor ambient air pollutants (fine particulate matter [PM2.5] and black carbon [BC]), ischemic stroke (IS) and its different subtypes, and the potential modifying effect of neighborhood greenspace and noise.MethodsThis time-stratified case-crossover study was based on IS and transient ischemic attacks (TIA) recorded in a hospital-based prospective stroke register (BASICMAR 2005–2014) in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain). Daily and hourly pollutant concentrations and meteorological data were obtained from monitoring stations in the city. Time-lags (from previous 72 h to acute stroke onset) were analyzed. Greenness and noise were determined from the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and daily average noise level at the street nearest to residential address, respectively.ResultsThe 2742 cases with known onset date and time, living in the study area, were analyzed. After adjusting for temperature, no statistically significant association between pollutants exposure and overall stroke risk was found. In subtype analysis, an association was detected between BC exposure at 24–47 h (odds ratio, 1.251; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.001–1.552; P = 0.042) and 48–72 h (1.211; 95% CI, 0.988–1.484; P = 0.065) time-lag prior to stroke onset and large-artery atherosclerosis subtype. No clear modifying effect of greenness or noise was observed.ConclusionsOverall, no association was found between PM2.5 and BC exposure and acute IS risk. By stroke subtype, large-artery atherosclerotic stroke could be triggered by daily increases in BC, a diesel fuel-related pollutant in the study area.HighlightsBC levels are associated with higher risk of large-artery atherosclerosis stroke.This association did not vary by levels of green space and traffic noise.Setting BC air quality standards could have valuable health benefits.

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