Air pollution: very strong correlation with emergency room visits

Asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and respiratory infections: As the level of air pollution increases, so does the number of emergency room visits.

As air pollution levels increase, more and more people end up in emergencies for respiratory problems, according to the largest US study ever conducted on the subject. Most patients are hospitalized because of asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and respiratory infections.

Ozone and fine particles

"Previous studies were mostly confined to one city," says Dr. Strosnider, research director and researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 869 American counties * have been screened here. Ozone and fine particles in the air have been measured and coupled with more than 40 million emergency room visits. The researchers then divided the patients into three groups: children under 19, adults under 65 and adults over 65.

They first found an association between ozone and emergency room visits in all age groups, with the highest association occurring among adults under 65 years of age. At 20 parts per billion (ppb) * of increased ozone in the air, the rate of emergency room visits for respiratory problems increased by 1.7% among children, by 5.1% among adults under 65 and 3.3% among those over 65. Overall, the association was strongest for asthma in adults under 65 years of age.

Protecting the most vulnerable people

Fine particles have also been linked to emergency room visits for children and adults under 65, with the strongest association being children. At each increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air, the rate of emergency room visits increased by 2.4% for children and 0.8% for adults under 65 years of age.

According to Dr Strosnider, these results must first and foremost guide efforts to protect those most vulnerable to air pollution: "For example, we have observed strong associations for ozone among adults under 65 and for This information can be used by public health officials and governments to make more targeted decisions about air pollution. "

1.3 million deaths

A real public health issue, air pollution is today a global problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nine out of ten people breathe polluted air around the world. Every year, an estimated 1.3 million people - more than half in developing countries - die as a result of air pollution in cities, the main areas affected by air pollution.

* In the United States, a county is a territorial division smaller than a state but larger than a city or municipality.

* One part per billion, often represented by the ppb symbol, is a way of expressing concentrations and proportions in general. The term is frequently used in science.

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