Associations between Long-Term Air Pollution Exposure and Risk of Osteoporosis-Related Fracture in a Nationwide Cohort Study in South Korea

Seulkee Heo, Honghyok Kim, Sera Kim, Seung Ah Choe, Garam Byun, Jong Tae Lee, Michelle L. Bell

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Bone health is a major concern for aging populations globally. Osteoporosis and bone mineral density are associated with air pollution, but less is known about the impacts of air pollution on osteoporotic fracture. We aimed to assess the associations between long-term air pollution exposure and risk of osteoporotic fracture in seven large Korean cities. We used Cox proportional hazard models to estimate hazard rations (HRs) of time-varying moving window of past exposures of particulate matter (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3) for osteoporotic fracture in Korean adults (age ≥50 y) in the National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort data, followed 2002 to 2015. HRs were calculated for an interquar-tile range (IQR) increase. Comorbidity and prescription associated with osteoporosis, age, sex, body mass index, health behaviors, and income were adjusted in the models. Effect modification by age, sex, exercise, and income was examined. We assessed 56,467 participants over 535,481 person-years of follow up. Linear and positive exposure-response associations were found for SO2, while PM10 and NO2 showed nonlinear associations. SO2 was associated with osteoporosis-related fracture with marginal significance (HR for an IQR [2 ppb] increase = 1.04, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.09). The SO2 HR esti-mates were robust in analyses applying various moving windows of exposure (from one to three years of past exposure) and two-pollutant models. The central HR estimate of O3 implied positive associations but was not significant (HR for 0.007 ppm increase = 1.01, 95% CI: 0.97, 1.06). PM10, CO, and NO2 did not show associations. Vulnerable groups by sex, age, exercise, and income varied across air pollutants and there was no evidence of effect modifications. Long-term exposure to SO2, but not PM10, CO, NO2 and O3, was associated with increased osteoporotic fracture risks in Korean adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2404
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Air pollution
  • Bone fracture
  • Cohort
  • Cox proportional hazard model
  • Osteoporosis
  • Urban environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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