Impact of outdoor air pollution on the incidence of tuberculosis in the Seoul metropolitan area, South Korea

Seung Sik Hwang, Sungchan Kang, Ji Young Lee, Ji Sun Lee, Hee Jin Kim, Sung Koo Han, Jae Joon Yim

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Background/Aims: Although indoor air pollution is a well-known risk factor for tuberculosis (TB), the possible link between outdoor air pollution and TB development has not been examined fully. We assessed the impact of outdoor air pollution on TB development in the Seoul metropolitan area, South Korea. Methods: The mean concentrations of ambient particulate matter (PM) with an aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 μm (PM10), O3, CO, NO2, and SO2 levels in Seoul, between January 1, 1997 and December 31, 2006, were determined. Furthermore, their association with the risk of developing TB after adjusting for socioeconomic status, between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2006, was investigated. Results: Between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2006, a total of 41,185 TB cases were reported in Seoul. Concentrations of PM10, O3, CO, and NO2 were not associated with TB incidence in males or females. However, the interquartile increase in SO2 concentration was associated with a 7% increment in TB incidence (relative risk [RR], 1.07; 95% credible interval [CrI], 1.03 to 1.12) in males but not in females (RR, 1.02; 95% CrI, 0.98 to 1.07). Conclusions: Long-term exposure to ambient SO2 increased the risk of TB in males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalKorean Journal of Internal Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Air pollution
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Tuberculosis

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