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An ecological analysis of PM2.5 concentrations and lung cancer mortality rates in China


Objective To explore the association between Particulate Matter (PM)2.5 (particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 µm) and lung cancer mortality rates and to estimate the potential risk of lung cancer mortality related to exposure to high PM2.5 concentrations.

Design Geographically weighted regression was performed to evaluate the relation between PM2.5 concentrations and lung cancer mortality for males, females and for both sexes combined, in 2008, based on newly available long-term data. Lung cancer fatalities from long-term exposure to PM2.5 were calculated according to studies by Pope III et al and the WHO air quality guidelines (AQGs).

Setting 31 provinces in China.

Results PM2.5 was associated with the lung cancer mortality of males, females and both sexes combined, in China, although there were exceptions in several regions, for males and females. The number of lung cancer fatalities calculated by the WHO AQGs ranged from 531 036 to 532 004, whereas the number calculated by the American Cancer Society (ACS) reached 614 860 after long-term (approximately 3–4 years) exposure to PM2.5 concentrations since 2008.

Conclusions There is a positive correlation between PM2.5 and lung cancer mortality rate, and the relationship between them varies across the entire country of China. The number of lung cancer fatalities estimated by ACS was closer to the actual data than those of the WHO AQGs. Therefore, the ACS estimate of increased risk of lung cancer mortality from long-term exposure to PM2.5 might be more applicable for evaluating lung cancer fatalities in China than the WHO estimate.

  • PM2.5
  • population
  • lung cancer mortality
  • GWR
  • ecologic study

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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