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Delpla, I, Benmarhnia T, Lebel A, Levallois P, Rodriguez MJ.  2015.  Investigating social inequalities in exposure to drinking water contaminants in rural areas. Environmental Pollution. 207:88-96.   10.1016/j.envpol.2015.08.046   AbstractWebsite

Few studies have assessed social inequalities in exposure to drinking water contaminants. This study explores this issue in 593 rural municipalities of Quebec, Canada. Quartiles of an ecological composite deprivation index were used as a proxy of socioeconomic status. Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and lead were chosen as proxies of chemical drinking water quality. The results show that the majority of deprived rural municipalities apply no treatment to their water (26%) or use a basic treatment (51%), whereas a relative majority of the wealthiest municipalities (40%) use advanced treatment. The proportion of municipalities having important lead (>5 mu g/L) levels is highest in most deprived municipalities. Moreover, most deprived municipalities have a higher risk of high tap lead levels (RR = 1.33; 95% Cl: 1.30, 1.36). Conversely, most deprived municipalities have a lower risk of high TTHMs levels (RR = 0.78; 95%CI: 0.69, 0.86). These findings suggest an environmental inequality in drinking water contaminants distribution in rural municipalities. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Vijayaraghavan, M, Benmarnhia T, Pierce JP, White MM, Kempster J, Shi YY, Trinidad DR, Messer K.  2018.  Income disparities in smoking cessation and the diffusion of smoke-free homes among US smokers: Results from two longitudinal surveys. Plos One. 13   10.1371/journal.pone.0201467   AbstractWebsite

Background Lower rates of successful quitting among low-income populations in the United States may be from slower dissemination of smoke-free homes, a predictor of cessation. Objectives To explore the role of smoke-free homes in cessation behavior across income levels. Participants Current smokers who were >= 18 years and who participated in the longitudinal 2002-2003 (n = 2801) or 2010-2011 (n = 2723) Tobacco Use Supplements to the Current Population Survey. Measurements We categorized income as multiples of the federal poverty level (FPL) (<300% FPL versus >= 300% FPL). We examined the association of smoke-free homes with 1+day quit attempts and 30+days abstinence at 1-year follow-up. We then conducted a mediation analysis to examine the extent that smoke-free homes contributed to income disparities in 30+days abstinence. Results Between the two surveys, heavy smoking (>= 1 pack/day) declined by 17%, and smoking prevalence declined by 15% among those with higher-incomes (>300%FPL). Although similar in 2002, the prevalence of smoke-free homes was 33% lower among individuals living <300% FPL than those living >= 300% FPL. Although the quit attempt rate was similar, the 30 +days abstinence rate was higher in the 2010-11 cohort than in 2002-3 cohort (20.6% versus 15.5%, p<0.008). Whereas smoking >= 1 pack/ day was associated with lower odds of 30 +days abstinence (Adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.7; 95% CI 0.5-0.9), having a higher income (AOR 1.9, 95% CI 1.4-2.6) and a smoke-free home (AOR 1.6, 95% CI 1.2-2.1) were associated with greater odds of 30+day abstinence. Differential changes in smoke-free homes across income groups between the two surveys contributed to 36% (95% CI 35.7-36.3) of the observed income disparity in 30+days abstinence. Conclusions Increasing the diffusion of smoke-free homes among low-income populations may attenuate at least a third of the income disparities in smoking cessation, highlighting the need for interventions to increase adoption of smoke-free homes among low-income households.

Green, H, Bailey J, Schwarz L, Vanos J, Ebi K, Benmarhnia T.  2019.  Impact of heat on mortality and morbidity in low and middle income countries: A review of the epidemiological evidence and considerations for future research. Environmental Research. 171:80-91.   10.1016/j.envres.2019.01.010   AbstractWebsite

Heat waves and high air temperature are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. However, the majority of research conducted on this topic is focused on high income areas of the world. Although heat waves have the most severe impacts on vulnerable populations, relatively few studies have studied their impacts in low and middle income countries (LMICs). The aim of this paper is to review the existing evidence in the literature on the impact of heat on human health in LMICs. We identified peer-reviewed epidemiologic studies published in English between January 1980 and August 2018 investigating potential associations between high ambient temperature or heat waves and mortality or morbidity. We selected studies according to the following criteria: quantitative studies that used primary and/or secondary data and report effect estimates where ambient temperature or heat waves are the main exposure of interest in relation to human morbidity or mortality within LMICs. Of the total 146 studies selected, eighty-two were conducted in China, nine in other countries of East Asia and the Pacific, twelve in South Asia, ten in Sub-Saharan Africa, eight in the Middle East and North Africa, and seven in each of Latin America and Europe. The majority of studies (92.9%) found positive associations between heat and human morbidity/mortality. Additionally, while outcome variables and study design differed greatly, most utilized a time-series study design and examined overall heath related morbidity/mortality impacts in an entire population, although it is notable that the selected studies generally found that the elderly, women, and individuals within the low socioeconomic brackets were the most vulnerable to the effects of high temperature. By highlighting the existing evidence on the impact of extreme heat on health in LMICs, we hope to determine data needs and help direct future studies in addressing this knowledge gap. The focus on LMICs is justified by the lack of studies and data studying the health burden of higher temperatures in these regions even though LMICs have a lower capacity to adapt to high temperatures and thus an increased risk.

Wang, Q, Benmarhnia T, Zhang HH, Knibbs LD, Sheridan P, Li CC, Bao JZ, Ren M, Wang SH, He YL, Zhang YW, Zhao QG, Huang CR.  2018.  Identifying windows of susceptibility for maternal exposure to ambient air pollution and preterm birth. Environment International. 121:317-324.   10.1016/j.envint.2018.09.021   AbstractWebsite

Maternal exposure to ambient air pollution has been associated with preterm birth (PTB), however, entire pregnancy or trimester-specific associations were generally reported, which may not sufficiently identify windows of susceptibility. Using birth registry data from Guangzhou, a megacity of southern China (population -14.5 million), including 469,975 singleton live births between January 2015 and July 2017, we assessed the association between weekly air pollution exposure and PTB in a retrospective cohort study. Daily average concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, NO2, SO2, and O-3 from 11 monitoring stations were used to estimate district-specific exposures for each participant based on their district residency during pregnancy. Distributed lag models (DLMs) incorporating Cox proportional hazard models were applied to estimate the association between weekly maternal exposure to air pollutant and PTB risk (as a time-to-event outcome), after controlling for temperature, seasonally, and individual-level covariates. We also considered moderate PTB (32-36 gestational weeks) and very PTB (28-31 gestational weeks) as outcomes of interest. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidential intervals (95% CIs) were calculated for an interquartile range (IQR) increase in air pollutants during the study period. An IQR increase in PM2.5 exposure during the 20th to 28th gestational weeks (27.0 mu g/m(3)) was significantly associated with PTB risk, with the strongest effect in the 25th week (HR = 1.034, 95% CI:1.010-1.059). The significant exposure windows were the 19th-28th weeks for PM10, the 18th-31st weeks for NO2, and the 23rd-31A weeks for O-3, respectively. The strongest associations were observed in the 25th week for PM10 (IQR = 37.0 mu g/m(3); HR = 1.048, 95% CI:1.034-1.062), the 26th week for NO2 (IQR = 29.0 mu g/m(3); HR = 1.060, 95% CI:1.028-1.094), and in the 28th week for O-3 (IQR = 90.0 mu g/m(3); HR = 1.063, 95% CI:1.046-1.081). Similar patterns were observed for moderate PTB (32-36 gestational weeks) and very PTB (28-31 gestational weeks) for PM2.5, PM10, NO2 exposure, but the effects were greater for very PTB. We did not observe any association between pregnancy SO2 exposure and the risk of PTB. Our results suggest that middle to late pregnancy is the most susceptible air pollution exposure window for air pollution and PTB among women in Guangzhou, China.