Association Between Health Symptoms and Particulate Matter from Traffic and Residential Heating − Results from RHINE III in Tartu

Mihkel Pindus 1, *, Hans Orru 1, 2, Marek Maasikmets 3, 4, Marko Kaasik 5, Rain Jõgi 6
1 University of Tartu, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, Tartu, Estonia
2 Umeå University, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå, Sweden
3 Estonian Environmental Research Centre (EERC), Tallinn, Estonia
4 Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Tartu, Estonia
5 University of Tartu, Institute of Physics, Tartu, Estonia
6 Tartu University Hospital, Lung Clinic, Tartu, Estonia

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© Pindus et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of Tartu Ravila 19, Tartu 50411, Estonia; Tel/Fax: (+372)737-4203; E-mails:,



Traffic and residential heating are the main sources of particulate matter (PM) in Northern Europe. Wood is widely used for residential heating and vehicle numbers are increasing. Besides traffic exhaust, studded tires produce road dust that is the main source of traffic-related PM10. Several studies have associated total PM mass with health symptoms; however there has been little research on the effects of PM from specific sources.


To study the health effects resulting from traffic and local heating PM.


Data on respiratory and cardiac diseases were collected within the framework of RHINE III (2011/2012) in Tartu, Estonia. Respondents’ geocoded home addresses were mapped in ArcGIS and linked with local heating-related PM2.5, traffic-related PM10 and total PM2.5 concentrations. Association between self-reported health and PM was assessed using multiple logistic regression analysis.


The annual mean modelled exposure for local heating PM2.5 was 2.3 μg/m3, for traffic PM10 3.3 μg/m3 and for all sources PM2.5 5.6 μg/m3. We found relationship between traffic induced PM10 as well as all sources induced PM2.5 with cardiac disease, OR=1.45 (95% CI 1.06−1.93) and 1.42 (95% CI 1.02−1.95), respectively. However, we did not find any significant association between residential heating induced particles and self-reported health symptoms. People with longer and better confirmed exposure period were also significantly associated with traffic induced PM10, all sources induced PM2.5 and cardiac diseases.


Traffic-related PM10 and all sources induced PM2.5 associated with cardiac disease; whereas residential heating induced particles did not.

Keywords: Air pollution, Cardiac disease, Particulate matter, Residential heating, Respiratory disease, RHINE, Traffic.