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Effect of socioeconomic status on the relationship between atmospheric pollution and mortality
  1. Olivier Laurent1,
  2. Denis Bard1,
  3. Laurent Filleul2,
  4. Claire Segala3
  1. 1LERES, Ecole Nationale de la Santé Publique, Rennes, France
  2. 2CIRE Aquitaine, Institut de Veille Sanitaire, Bordeaux, France
  3. 3Sepia-Santé, Melrand, France
  1. Correspondence to:
 Olivier Laurent
 LERES, Ecole Nationale de la Santé Publique, Avenue du Professeur Léon Bernard, 35043 Rennes Cedex, France;olivier.laurent{at}


Current knowledge about potential interactions between socioeconomic status and the short- and long-term effects of air pollution on mortality was reviewed. A systematic search of the Medline database through April 2006 extracted detailed information about exposure measures, socioeconomic indicators, subjects’ characteristics and principal results. Fifteen articles (time series, case-crossover, cohort) examined short-term effects. The variety of socioeconomic indicators studied made formal comparisons difficult. One striking fact emerged: studies using socioeconomic characteristics measured at coarser geographic resolutions (city- or county-wide) found no effect modification, but those using finer geographic resolutions found mixed results, and five of six studies using individually-measured socioeconomic characteristics found that pollution affected disadvantaged subjects more. This finding was echoed by the six studies of long-term effects (cohorts) identified; these had substantial methodological differences, which we discuss extensively. Current evidence does not yet justify a definitive conclusion that socioeconomic characteristics modify the effects of air pollution on mortality. Nevertheless, existing results, most tending to show greater effects among the more deprived, emphasise the importance of continuing to investigate this topic.

  • BMI, body mass index
  • CoH, coefficient of haze
  • NO2, nitrogen dioxide
  • O3, ozone
  • PM10, particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of up to 10 μm
  • PM2.5, particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of up to 2.5 μm
  • SES, socioeconomic status
  • SO2, sulfur dioxide
  • TSP, total suspended particulates
  • air pollution
  • mortality
  • effect modifier
  • socioeconomic factors
  • urban health

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  • Funding: None.

  • Competing interests: None.

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