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Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Jan;110(1):43-9.

Air conditioning and source-specific particles as modifiers of the effect of PM(10) on hospital admissions for heart and lung disease.

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Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Studies on acute effects of particulate matter (PM) air pollution show significant variability in exposure-effect relations among cities. Recent studies have shown an influence of ventilation on personal/indoor-outdoor relations and stronger associations of adverse effects with combustion-related particles. We evaluated whether differences in prevalence of air conditioning (AC) and/or the contribution of different sources to total PM(10) emissions could partly explain the observed variability in exposure-effect relations. We used regression coefficients of the relation between PM(10) and hospital admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and pneumonia from a recent study in 14 U.S. cities. We obtained data on the prevalence of AC from the 1993 American Housing Survey and data on PM(10) emissions by source category, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and population density from the U.S. EPA. We analyzed data using meta-regression techniques. PM(10) regression coefficients for CVD and COPD decreased significantly with increasing percentage of homes with central AC when cities were stratified by whether their PM(10) concentrations peaked in winter or non-winter months. PM(10) coefficients for CVD increased significantly with increasing percentage of PM(10) emission from highway vehicles, highway diesels, oil combustion, metal processing, decreasing percentage of PM(10) emission from fugitive dust, and increasing population density and VMT/mile(2). In multivariate analysis, only percentage of PM(subscript)10(/subscript) from highway vehicles/diesels and oil combustion remained significant. For COPD and pneumonia, associations were less significant but the patterns of the associations were similar to that for CVD. The results suggest that air conditioning and proportion of especially traffic-related particles significantly modify the effect of PM(10) on hospital admissions, especially for CVD.

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