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BACKGROUND: Lack of research on the effects of gaseous pollutants (nitrogen oxides [NOx], sulfur dioxide [SO2], carbon monoxide [CO] and ozone [O3]) in the ambient environment on health outcomes from within low and middle income countries (LMICs) is leading to reliance on results from studies performed within high income countries (HICs). This systematic review and meta-analysis examines the cardiorespiratory health effects of gaseous pollutants in LMICs exclusively. METHODS: Systematic searching was carried out and estimates pooled by pollutant, lag and outcome, and presented as excess relative risk per 10 μg/m3 (NOx, SO2, O3) or 1 ppm (CO) increase pollutant. Sub-group analysis was performed examining estimates by specific outcomes, city and co-pollutant adjustment. RESULTS: Sixty studies met the inclusion criteria, most (44) from the East Asia and Pacific region. A 10 μg/m3 increase in same day NOx was associated with 0.92% (95% CI: 0.44, 1.39), and 0.70% (0.01, 1.40) increases in cardiovascular and respiratory mortality respectively, same day NOx was not associated with morbidity. Same day sulfur dioxide was associated with 0.73% (0.04, 1.42) and 0.50% (0.01, 1.00) increases in respiratory morbidity and in cardiovascular mortality respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Acute exposure to gaseous ambient air pollution (AAP) is associated with increases in morbidity and mortality in LMICs, with greatest associations observed for cardiorespiratory mortality.

Original publication




Journal article


Environ Health

Publication Date





Air pollution, Cardiovascular, LMICs, Meta-analysis, Respiratory, Systematic review, Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Cardiovascular Diseases, Developing Countries, Environmental Exposure, Humans, Respiratory Tract Diseases