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Exposure to fine particle air pollution linked with risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases

Being exposed to fine particle matter air pollution increases a person's risk for hospital admission for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, according to a study in the March 8 issue of JAMA.

Numerous studies have shown associations of chronic exposure to airborne particles and increased health risks. Recent evidence on adverse effects of particulate air pollution on public health has motivated the development of more stringent standards for levels of particulate matter in outdoor air in the United States and in other countries, according to background information in the article. In 1997, the standard for airborne particulate matter was revised, maintaining the previous indicator of particulate matter of less than or equal to 10 m in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) and creating a new indicator for fine particulate matter of less than or equal to 2.5 m in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5). Particles in this size range have a much greater probability of reaching the small airways and the alveoli (air sacs) of the lung than do larger particles. Evidence is limited on the health risks of this size range of particulate matter.

Francesca Dominici, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a study to estimate the risk for cardiac and respiratory diseases from exposure to fine particulate air pollution. The researchers analyzed data from a national database for 1999 through 2002 on hospital admission rates (constructed from the Medicare National Claims History Files) for cardiovascular and respiratory outcomes and injuries for 11.5 million Medicare enrollees (aged 65 years or older) who lived in 204 U.S. urban counties (population greater than 200,000). The individuals lived an average of 5.9 miles from a PM2.5 monitor.

The researchers found there was a short-term increase in hospital admission rates associated with exposure to PM2.5 for all of the health outcomes except injuries. The largest association was for heart fail
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Contact: Kenna Lowe
410-614-6029
JAMA and Archives Journals
7-Mar-2006


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