Hos­pi­tal­iza­tion Risks Tied to Long-Term Air Pol­lu­tion Ex­po­sure

Hos­pi­tal­iza­tion Risks Tied to Long-Term

Wellness Update - - Contents - said Schwartz.

Our study found that long-term rates of ad­mis­sions for pneu­mo­nia, heart at­tacks, strokes, and di­a­betes are higher in lo­ca­tions with higher long-term av­er­age par­ti­cle con­cen­tra­tions

Older adults may be at in­creased risk of be­ing hos­pi­tal­ized for lung and heart disease, stroke, and di­a­betes fol­low­ing long-term ex­po­sure to fine-par­ti­cle air pol­lu­tion, ac­cord­ing to a new study by re­searchers at Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health (HSPH), pub­lished online April 17, 2012 in PLoS ONE. It is the first study to look at the link be­tween long-term ef­fects of ex­po­sure to fine par­ti­cles in the air and rates of hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions. Prior stud­ies have re­ported an as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and short-term air par­ti­cle ex­po­sure (i.e. ex­po­sure to air par­ti­cles on day of hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sion or sev­eral days be­fore). How­ever, th­ese short­term stud­ies left un­clear how many ex­tra ad­mis­sions oc­curred in the long run, and only in­cluded peo­ple who live near air pol­lu­tion mon­i­tors, typ­i­cally lo­cated in cities. No stud­ies of long-term ex­po­sure to fine air par­ti­cles (over the course of a year or two years) and rates of hos­pi­tal­iza­tions had been done. “Our study found that long-term rates of ad­mis­sions for pneu­mo­nia, heart at­tacks, strokes, and di­a­betes are higher in lo­ca­tions with higher long-term av­er­age par­ti­cle con­cen­tra­tions,” said lead au­thor Itai Kloog, a re­search fel­low in the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Health at HSPH. Kloog and his col­leagues, in­clud­ing se­nior au­thor Joel Schwartz, pro­fes­sor of en­vi­ron­men­tal epi­demi­ol­ogy at HSPH and di­rec­tor of the Har­vard Center for Risk Anal­y­sis, used novel pre­dic­tion mod­els, based on satel­lite ob­ser­va­tions, emis­sions, traf­fic, and weather data to pre­dict lev­els of fine air par­ti­cles in the air all over New Eng­land, which al­lowed the re­searchers to in­clude ru­ral and sub­ur­ban ar­eas. The re­searchers com­pared their find­ings with hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sion records on all Medi­care pa­tients, ages 65 and older, ad­mit­ted to 3,000 hos­pi­tals through­out New Eng­land from 2000-2006. The re­searchers es­ti­mated zip code con­cen­tra­tions of fine air par­ti­cles known as PM2.5 — air mat­ter with a di­am­e­ter of 2.5 mi­crons or less and more nar­row than the width of a hu­man hair. Th­ese par­ti­cles, such as soot from ve­hi­cles, and other par­ti­cles from power plants, wood burn­ing, and cer­tain in­dus­trial pro­cesses, are a sig­nif­i­cant health risk when they lodge in the lungs, caus­ing in­flam­ma­tion there and in the rest of the body, and con­tribut­ing to lung and heart disease. The re­sults showed an as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween long-term ex­po­sure to fine air par­ti­cles for all hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions ex­am­ined. For ex­am­ple, for ev­ery 10- g/m3 in­crease in long-term PM2.5 ex­po­sure, the re­searchers found a 4.22% in­crease in res­pi­ra­tory ad­mis­sions, a 3.12% in­crease in car­dio­vas­cu­lar disease ad­mis­sions, a 3.49% in­crease in stroke ad­mis­sions, and a 6.33% in­crease in di­a­betes ad­mis­sions. “Par­tic­u­late air pol­lu­tion is one of the largest avoid­able causes of death and ill­ness in the United States, and un­like diet and ex­er­cise, does not re­quire be­hav­ioral change. Off-the-shelf tech­nol­ogy can be retro­fit­ted onto sources of pol­lu­tion at mod­est cost, with a large health ben­e­fit. This study shows that in ad­di­tion to avoid­ing deaths, such mea­sures will re­duce chronic disease and med­i­cal care costs,”

This in­for­ma­tion pro­vided cour­tesy of Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health

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