BACKGROUND - Nearly 4.3 million deaths worldwide were attributable to exposure to household air pollution in 2012. However, household coal use remains widespread.
OBJECTIVES - We investigated the association of cooking coal and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a prospective cohort of primarily never-smoking women in Shanghai, China.
METHODS - A cohort of 74,941 women were followed from 1996 through 2009 with annual linkage to the Shanghai vital statistics database. Cause-specific mortality was identified through 2009. Use of household coal for cooking was assessed through a residential history questionnaire. Cox proportional hazards models estimated the risk of mortality associated with household coal use.
RESULTS - In this cohort, 63% of the women ever used coal (n = 46,287). Compared with never coal use, ever use of coal was associated with mortality from all causes [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.12; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.05, 1.21], cancer (HR = 1.14; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.27), and ischemic heart disease (overall HR = 1.61; 95% CI: 1.14, 2.27; HR for myocardial infarction specifically = 1.80; 95% CI: 1.16, 2.79). The risk of cardiovascular mortality increased with increasing duration of coal use, compared with the risk in never users. The association between coal use and ischemic heart disease mortality diminished with increasing years since cessation of coal use.
CONCLUSIONS - Evidence from this study suggests that past use of coal among women in Shanghai is associated with excess all-cause mortality, and from cardiovascular diseases in particular. The decreasing association with cardiovascular mortality as the time since last use of coal increased emphasizes the importance of reducing use of household coal where use is still widespread.
CITATION - Kim C, Seow WJ, Shu XO, Bassig BA, Rothman N, Chen BE, Xiang YB, Hosgood HD III, Ji BT, Hu W, Wen C, Chow WH, Cai Q, Yang G, Gao YT, Zheng W, Lan Q. 2016. Cooking coal use and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a prospective cohort study of women in Shanghai, China. Environ Health Perspect 124:1384-1389; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/EHP236.