TitleDisease assimilation: The mortality impacts of fine particulate matter on immigrants to Canada.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsErickson, AC, Christidis, T, Pappin, A, Brook, JR, Crouse, DL, Hystad, P, Li, C, Martin, RV, Meng, J, Pinault, L, von Donkelaar, A, Weichenthal, S, Tjepkema, M, Burnett, RT, Brauer, M
JournalHealth Rep
Date Published06/2020

BACKGROUND: Immigrants make up 20% of the Canadian population; however, little is known about the mortality impacts of fine particulate matter (PM) air pollution on immigrants compared with non-immigrants, or about how impacts may change with duration in Canada.

DATA AND METHODS: This study used the 2001 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort, a longitudinal cohort of 3.5 million individuals, of which 764,000 were classified as immigrants (foreign-born). Postal codes from annual income tax files were used to account for mobility among respondents and to assign annual PM concentrations from 1998 to 2016. Exposures were estimated as a three-year moving average prior to the follow-up year. Cox survival models were used to determine hazard ratios (HRs) for cause-specific mortality, comparing the Canadian and foreign-born populations, with further stratification by year of immigration grouped into 10-year cohorts.

RESULTS: Differences in urban-rural settlement patterns resulted in greater exposure to PM for immigrants compared with non-immigrants (mean = 9.3 vs. 7.5 μg/m), with higher exposures among more recent immigrants. In fully adjusted models, immigrants had higher HRs per 10 μg/m increase in PM concentration compared with Canadian-born individuals for cardiovascular mortality (HR [95% confidence interval] = 1.22 [1.12 to 1.34] vs. 1.12 [1.07 to 1.18]) and cerebrovascular mortality (HR = 1.25 [1.03 to 1.52] vs. 1.03 [0.93 to 1.15]), respectively. However, tests for differences between the two groups were not significant when Cochran's Q test was used. No significant associations were found for respiratory outcomes, except for lung cancer in non-immigrants (HR = 1.10 [1.02 to 1.18]). When stratified by year of immigration, differences in HRs across varied by cause of death.

DISCUSSION: In Canada, PM is an equal-opportunity risk factor, with immigrants experiencing similar if not higher mortality risks compared with non-immigrants for cardiovascular-related causes of death. Some notable differences also existed with cerebrovascular and lung cancer deaths. Continued reductions in air pollution, particularly in urban areas, will improve the health of the Canadian population as a whole.

Alternate JournalHealth Rep
PubMed ID32644760