Incidence of lung cancer and air pollution in boroughs of Chile: an ecological study

10 Jun 2021
Jorge Sapunar-Zenteno, Pedro Ferrer-Rosende, Christian Caglevic

Lung cancer frequency has been progressively increasing; this has been linked to the use of inhaled tobacco and air pollution. In Chile, air pollution has reached alarming levels due to motor vehicle traffic, firewood burning for heating and minerals in urban areas; for this reason, our objective was to evaluate the association between the incidence of lung cancer and the concentration of the main air pollutants monitored in the country. We carried out a cross-sectional ecological study that evaluated the association between the average incidence of lung cancer in a 5-year period (2015–2019) with the average annual concentration of six atmospheric pollutants in the 5 years prior in 14 Chilean boroughs, using the population of beneficiaries of the Fundación Arturo-López-Pérez Cancer Institute. The annualised incidence of lung cancer was 9.77 per 100,000 and it varied significantly within the boroughs studied. When evaluating the relationship between lung-cancer incidence and the average concentration of atmospheric pollutants, we only found a direct and significant correlation between the level of respirable particulates 2.5 and the incidence of adenocarcinomas (β: 0.16; p: 0.023).