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Residential proximity to gasoline service stations and preterm birth


Preterm birth (PTB) is a growing public health problem potentially associated with ambient air pollution. Gasoline service stations can emit atmospheric pollutants, including volatile organic compounds potentially implicated in PTB. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between residential proximity to gasoline service stations and PTB. Singleton live births on the Island of Montreal from 1994 to 2006 were obtained (n = 267,478). Gasoline service station locations, presence of heavy-traffic roads, and neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) were determined using a geographic information system. Multivariable logistic regression was used to analyze the association between PTB and residential proximity to gasoline service stations (50, 100, 150, 200, 250, and 500 m), accounting for maternal covariates, neighborhood SES, and heavy-traffic roads. For all distance categories beyond 50 m, presence of service stations was associated with a greater odds of PTB. Associations were robust to adjustment for maternal covariates for distance categories of 150 and 200 m but were nullified when adjusting for neighborhood SES. In analyses accounting for the number of service stations, the likelihood of PTB within 250 m was statistically significant in unadjusted models. Associations were, however, nullified in models accounting for maternal covariates or neighborhood SES. Our results suggest that there is no clear association between residential proximity to gasoline service stations in Montreal and PTB. Given the correlation between proximity of gasoline service stations and SES, it is difficult to delineate the role of these factors in PTB.

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The authors appreciate contributions of Karine Léger who extracted geographic data from the MEGAPHONE geographic information system. We also acknowledge the City of Montréal for providing access to the Montréal Property Tax Assessment database. YK holds an investigator award from Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Santé.

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Correspondence to Vicky Huppé.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Huppé, V., Kestens, Y., Auger, N. et al. Residential proximity to gasoline service stations and preterm birth. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 7186–7193 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-013-1677-y

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  • Preterm birth
  • Service stations
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Social inequalities
  • Residential exposure
  • Major roads