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Iran J Public Health. 2011;40(3):41-54. Epub 2011 Sep 30.

Respiratory Hospital Admissions before and after Closure of a Major Industry in the Lower Hunter Region, Australia.

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  • 1Dept. of Environmental Health Engineering, Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Iran.



Many epidemiological studies reported significant associations between air pollution and respiratory hospital admissions. Proximity of industries to the residential areas may have considerable impacts on air quality and subsequently public health. This paper describes the indirect impacts of closing a large steel industry, Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP), in the Lower Hunter region, Australia.


The number of hospital admissions for a group of respiratory diseases including all respiratory disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma were incorporated in this study. The study location comprised the entire Lower Hunter, Newcastle, as the closest location, and Port Stephens, as the most distant area to the industry. Two series of data set for 3.5 years before and after industry closure allowed a comparison of daily hospital admissions. Mixed Model was employed to calculate significant changes in the time series by month.


While the rest of the disease categories decreased, COPD 65+ increased after BHP closure. All-age asthma in Newcastle showed the highest decrease whereas the least difference was observed for respiratory disease in Port Stephens. The decrease of admission rates was generally more significant in Newcastle, where the industry was operating, than in the other areas.


Inconsistent results challenged the publically viewed significant role of BHP closure on public health. The study expected consistent decreases of respiratory admissions after industry closure; however, the district results suggested some impacts on community health. Incompatible findings could be attributable to other factors that dominated the possible impacts of BHP closure.


Air pollution; Australia; BHP steel works; Hospital admission; Respiratory disease

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