ULTRA III: "ENVIRONMENTAL NANOPARTICLES AND HEALTH: Exposure, Modeling and Epidemiology of Nanoparticles and their Composition within KORA" (2013-2016)

Study objectives:
Using predicted exposures based on land-use regression models, we will investigate the association between annual averages of environmental nanoparticles (ultrafine particles (UFP)), their chemical composition and source contributions, black carbon (BC), nitrogen dioxides (NOx), ozone and particulate matter and several health outcomes collected as part of the KORA FF4 cohort (KORA re-examination in 2013/14).

Specific objectives:

  • To measure UFP, its chemical composition and further pollutants in the Augsburg region for purposes of characterizing spatial-temporal variation.
  • To model the long-term average exposure to the pollutants for participants of the KORA cohort and verify these models against previously collected personal monitoring data.
  • To assess the long-term association between the air pollutants and oxidative stress, cardio-metabolic outcomes including inflammatory markers, lung function, metabolic disease development, onset of diabetes, myocardial infarction and/or stroke, kidney function, and brain disorders.

Study area and design of the sampling campaign:
The study region consisted of the city of Augsburg (280,000 inhabitants) and the two adjacent rather rural counties (372,000 inhabitants) covering an area of 1,854 km². In total, twenty sampling sites were selected within the study region. Of these, 12 sites were located in the city of Augsburg and 8 sites in the two adjacent counties. In addition, one permanent background station (reference site) supplied measurements over the whole study period to adjust the discontinuous site measurements to the true long term average. The site selection was based on the spatial variation of air pollution at residential addresses of the KORA participants and included a mixture of urban traffic (6), urban background (5), regional traffic (4) and regional background (4) monitoring sites.

The measurement campaign to determine the annual average concentrations of particle number concentration (PNC, as a surrogate for ultrafine particles), PM10, PM2.5, PM2.5absorbance, NOx, NO2, and ozone was conducted between March 2014 and April 2015. Air pollution measurements were based on the standardized ESCAPE approach. Compared to ESCAPE we extended the measurement program by PNC and ozone. Annual averages were calculated and land-use regression models were developed in order to explain the spatial variation of the pollutants by predictor variables derived from geographic information systems (GIS).

Assessment the long-term association between the air pollutants and the health outcomes:
To assess the health effects, we will combine the modeled individual long-term concentrations with health data from the KORA FF4 study. We will use cross-sectional linear and logistic regression models adjusting for known risk factors such as age, gender, body mass index, risk factor profiles, socio-economic status, active and passive smoking and also investigate effect modification by metabolic disease status. In addition, we will longitudinally investigate incidence of diabetes, myocardial infarction and/or stroke with Cox proportional hazards models.

Study population:
KORA participants

Study area:
Augsburg, Germany

2013 - 2016

Current status:
Field work and exposure modelling completed; epidemiological analyses and paper drafting ongoing.

Research Group „Environmental Exposure Assessment”: Josef Cyrys, Jianwei Gu, Uwe Hartz, Thomas Kusch

For more information please refer to ULTRA III project description of Research Group "Environmental Risks" (new window).

Collaboration with two institutes of Helmholtz Zentrum München

Intramural funding for Environmental Health projects of Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health

Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health
Institute of Epidemiology
Dr. Annette Peters

Related publication:

  • Wolf K, Cyrys J, Harciníková T, Gu J, Kusch T, Hampel R, Schneider A, Peters A: 
Land use regression modeling of ultrafine particles, ozone, nitrogen oxides and markers of particulate matter pollution in Augsburg, Germany.
Sci Total Environ. 2017 Feb 1;579:1531-1540. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.160. Epub 2016 Dec 2.


For more information related to this project please refer to ULTRA III project description of Research Group "Environmental Risks" (new window).

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