Long-Term Air Pollution Linked to Multiple Diseases

Greater increase in hospital admissions for long-term versus short-term exposure

THURSDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term exposure to fine particulate matter in the air increases hospital admissions for respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and diabetes in the elderly considerably more than short-term exposure does, according to a study published online April 17 in PLoS One.

To look at the effect of long-term exposure to fine particulate matter on hospital admissions, Itai Kloog, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used models based on satellite observations, emissions, traffic, and weather to predict the levels of air particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) all over New England. The impact of long- and short-term exposure to PM2.5 was assessed for all respiratory, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes admissions for residents aged 65 years and older.

The researchers found that short- and long-term exposure to PM2.5 was associated with respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes admissions. For every 10 µg/m³ increase in long-term exposure, there was a 4.22 percent increase in respiratory admissions, a 3.12 percent increase in cardiovascular admissions, a 3.49 percent increase in stroke admissions, and a 6.33 percent increase in diabetes admissions. This compared with increases in admissions of 0.70, 1.03, 0.24, and 0.96 percent, respectively, for every 10 µg/m³ increase in short-term exposure.

"As with mortality studies, chronic exposure to particles is associated with substantially larger increases in hospital admissions than acute exposure and both can be detected simultaneously using our exposure models," Kloog and colleagues conclude.

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