Environmental exposure as an independent risk factor of chronic bronchitis in northwest Russia.
In some parts of the northwest Russia, Murmansk region, high exposures to heavy mining and refining industrial air pollution, especially sulphur dioxide, have been documented. Our aim was to evaluate whether living in the mining area would be an independent risk factor of the respiratory symptoms. A cross-sectional survey of 200 Murmansk region adult citizens was performed. The main outcome variable was prolonged cough with sputum production that fulfilled the criteria of chronic bronchitis. Of the 200 participants, 53 (26.5%) stated that they had experienced chronic cough with phlegm during the last 2 years. The prevalence was higher among those subjects living in the mining area with its high pollution compared to those living outside this region (35% vs. 18%). Multivariable regression model confirmed that the risk for the chronic cough with sputum production was elevated in a statistical significant manner in the mining and refining area (adjusted OR 2.16, 95% CI 1.07-4.35) after adjustment for smoking status, age and sex. The increased level of sulphur dioxide emitted during nickel mining and refining may explain these adverse health effects. This information is important for medical authorities when they make recommendations and issue guidelines regarding the relationship between environmental pollution and health outcomes.