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International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health


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Ambient sulphur dioxide exposure and emergency department visits for migraine in Vancouver, Canada

Mieczyslaw Szyszkowicz1 / Brian Rowe1 / Gilaad Kaplan1

Canada Population Studies Division, Health Canada, Ottawa, ON1

Canada Department of Emergency Medicine and School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB2

Canada Departments of Medicine and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB3

This content is open access.

Citation Information: International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health. Volume 22, Issue 1, Pages 7–12, ISSN (Online) 1896-494X, ISSN (Print) 1232-1087, DOI: 10.2478/v10001-009-0006-7, March 2009

Publication History

Published Online:
2009-03-27

Ambient sulphur dioxide exposure and emergency department visits for migraine in Vancouver, Canada

Objectives: Ambient exposure to sulphur dioxide (SO2) has been previously associated with emergency department (ED) visits for migraine headaches. In the present study, the objective was to examine the relationship between ED visits for migraine and ambient sulphur dioxide concentrations. Design and Methods: This was a time-series study of 1059 ED visits for migraine (ICD-9: 346) recorded at a Vancouver hospital between 1999 and 2003 (1 520 days). Air pollution levels of SO2 were measured by fixed-site monitoring stations. The generalized linear mixed models technique was applied to regress daily counts of ED visits for migraine on the levels of the pollutant after adjusting for meteorological conditions: temperature and relative humidity. The analysis was stratified by season and gender. Results: Positive and statistically significant correlations were observed for SO2 exposure and ED visits for migraine for females during colder months (October-March). The percentage increase in daily visits was 16.8% (95% CI: 1.2-34.8) for a 4-day average (of daily mean concentrations) SO2 level, for an interquartile range (IQR) increase of 1.9 ppb. Conclusions: Our findings provide additional support for a consistent correlation between migraine headache and air pollution (SO2).

Keywords: Air pollution; Urban; Migraine; Mixed models; Emergency department visit; Sulphur dioxide

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