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Background: Despite evidence supporting an association between ambient air pollutants and cardiovascular disease (CVD), the roles of the physicochemical components of particulate matter (PM) and copollutants are not fully understood. This time-series study examined the relation between ambient air pollution and cardiovascular conditions using ambient air quality data and emergency department visit data in Atlanta, Georgia, from January 1, 1993, to August 31, 2000.

Methods: Outcome data on 4,407,535 emergency department visits were compiled from 31 hospitals in Atlanta. The air quality data included measurements of criteria pollutants for the entire study period, as well as detailed measurements of mass concentrations for the fine and coarse fractions of PM and several physical and chemical characteristics of PM for the final 25 months of the study. Emergency department visits for CVD and for cardiovascular subgroups were assessed in relation to daily measures of air pollutants using Poisson generalized linear models controlling for long-term temporal trends and meteorologic conditions with cubic splines.

Results: Using an a priori 3-day moving average in single-pollutant models, CVD visits were associated with NO2, CO, PM2.5, organic carbon, elemental carbon, and oxygenated hydrocarbons. Secondary analyses suggested that these associations tended to be strongest with same-day pollution levels.

Conclusions: These findings provide evidence for an association between CVD visits and several correlated pollutants, including gases, PM2.5, and PM2.5 components.

(C) 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.