Associations of Long-term Air Pollution Exposure and Incident Late-Life Disability in Older U.S. Adults: The Health Retirement Study

TitleAssociations of Long-term Air Pollution Exposure and Incident Late-Life Disability in Older U.S. Adults: The Health Retirement Study
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsGao, J, de Leon, CFMendes, D'Souza, J, Zhang, B, Szpiro, A, Young, M, Weuve, J, Langa, KM, Faul, JD, Kaufman, J, Hirth, RA, Adar, SDubowsky
Conference NameISEE Conference Abstracts
KeywordsActivities of Daily Living, Air Pollution, Long-Term Exposure

Late-life disability is of critical concern to older adults and can reflect the cumulative burden of chronic disease over the lifespan. Although air pollution has been associated with many common chronic conditions, associations with disability are understudied. We aimed to quantify associations between long-term exposures to air pollution and late-life disability. METHODS: We used biennial data between 2000 and 2016 on self-reported Activities of Daily Living (ADL) from participants 65 years from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study. Using a spatiotemporal prediction model, we estimated 10-year PM2.5, PM10-2.5, NO2, and O3 concentrations at participant residences. We then estimated the risk of incident ADL disability as a function of time-varying air pollution, adjusting for individual and area-level confounders and sampling weights in a Cox model. We fitted single- and two-pollutant models. RESULTS:Our study population of 16,927 adults (70+6.4 years) was predominantly non-Hispanic White (76%), Non-Hispanic Black (14%), and Hispanic White (8%) and 32% reported a new disability during follow-up. Overall, we found some evidence that air pollution was associated with an increased risk of ADL disability. After adjustment for place and PM2.5, we found that interquartile increases in PM10-2.5 and NO2 were associated with 8% (HR: 1.08 per 5 µg/m3, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.17) and 9% (HR: 1.09 per 6 ppb, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.19) greater hazards of ADL, respectively, with similar findings in the single pollutant models. PM2.5 and O3 were not associated with higher hazards of ADL in single or multipollutant models after detailed adjustment for place. CONCLUSIONS:This prospective study in a nationally representative sample of older adults found some evidence that higher levels of some but not all long-term air pollutants assessed are associated with increased risk of late-life disability.

Citation Key11822