BackgroundAmbient air pollution and tuberculosis (TB) have an impact on public health worldwide, yet associations between the two remain uncertain.
ObjectiveWe determined the impact of residential traffic on mortality during treatment of active TB.
MethodsFrom 2000-2012, we enrolled 32,875 patients in California with active TB and followed them throughout treatment. We obtained patient data from the California Tuberculosis Registry and calculated traffic volumes and traffic densities in 100- to 400-m radius buffers around residential addresses. We used Cox models to determine mortality hazard ratios, controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical potential confounders. We categorized traffic exposures as quintiles and determined trends using Wald tests.
ResultsParticipants contributed 22,576 person-years at risk. There were 2,305 deaths during treatment for a crude mortality rate of 1,021 deaths per 10,000 person-years. Traffic volumes and traffic densities in all buffers around patient residences were associated with increased mortality during TB treatment, although the findings were not statistically significant in all buffers. As the buffer size decreased, fifth-quintile mortality hazards increased, and trends across quintiles of traffic exposure became more statistically significant. Increasing quintiles of nearest-road traffic volumes in the 100-m buffer were associated with 3%, 14%, 19%, and 28% increased risk of death during TB treatment [first quintile, referent; second quintile hazard ratio (HR)=1.03 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.86, 1.25]; third quintile HR=1.14 (95% CI: 0.95, 1.37); fourth quintile HR=1.19 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.43); fifth quintile HR=1.28 (95% CI: 1.07, 1.53), respectively; p-trend=0.002].
ConclusionsResidential proximity to road traffic volumes and traffic density were associated with increased all-cause mortality in patients undergoing treatment for active tuberculosis even after adjusting for multiple demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical factors, suggesting that TB patients are susceptible to the adverse health effects of traffic-related air pollution. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP1699.