Coarse Particle Exposure Associated with Respiratory Emergency Department Visits in California

In a study published in the May edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers explored the connection between particulate matter in the air (from sources such as vehicle exhaust, industrial sources, and dust) and respiratory problems. “Although respiratory disease has been strongly connected to fine particulate air pollution [PM 2.5], evidence has been mixed regarding the effects of coarse particles [PM 10]…In this study, [the authors] evaluated the relationship between coarse particles and respiratory emergency department visits, including common sub-diagnoses, from 2005 to 2008 in 35 California counties….Significant associations between respiratory emergency department visits and coarse particle levels were observed….Pneumonia and acute respiratory infection visits were not associated, although some suggestion of a relationship with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease visits was present. [The] results indicate that coarse particle exposure may trigger asthma exacerbations requiring emergency care, and reducing exposures among asthmatic persons may provide benefits.” The abstract is available online.