The objective of this study is to analyze the short-term effects of atmospheric pollutant concentrations (PM10, NO2 and O3) and heat and cold waves on the number of pre-term births and cases of low birth weight related to Saharan dust advection and biomass combustion. The dependent variables used in this analysis were the total number of births, births with low weight (>2.500 g) and pre-term births (<37 weeks), that occurred at the province level. Data provided by the NSI included: days with Saharan dust intrusion or biomass advection classified in terms of information provided by MITECO for each of the nine regions in Spain. A representative city was selected for reach region in which the registered average daily concentrations of PM10, NO2 and O3 (μg/m3) were used. These were also provided by MITECO. The daily maximum and daily minimum temperature (°C) used was those registered by the meteorological observatory station located in each province capital, provided by AEMET. Using Poisson log linear regression models, the associated relative risks (RR) were measured as well as the population attributable risk (PAR) corresponding to the variables that resulted statistically significant at p < 0.05 for days with and without intrusion of natural particulate matter.
The results obtained show that the days with Saharan dust intrusion or advections due to biomass combustion- beyond the impact of PM10, primary pollutants such as NO2 (in Saharan intrusions), heat waves and O3 – are associated with the number of births, low birth weight and pre-term birth. The RR and percent PAR of the pollutants and the heat waves are greater than those obtained for PM10.
The results of this study indicate that days with natural particulate matter due to biomass combustion or advection of Saharan dust put pregnant women at risk.