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Arch Environ Occup Health. 2012;67(2):103-8. doi: 10.1080/19338244.2011.598888.

The relationship of ambient ozone and PM(2.5) levels and asthma emergency department visits: possible influence of gender and ethnicity.

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Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


An investigation of the relationship of air pollution and emergency department (ED) visits for asthma was an opportunity to assess environmental risks for asthma exacerbations in an urban population. A total of 6,979 individuals with a primary discharge diagnosis of asthma presented to 1 of 6 EDs in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area between 2002 and 2005. Using a case-crossover methodology, which controls for the effects of subject-specific covariates such as gender and race, a 2.5% increase was observed in asthma ED visits for each 10 ppb increase in the 1-hour maximum ozone level on day 2 (odds ratio [OR] = 1.025, p < .05). Particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 μm (PM(2.5)) had an effect both on the total population on day 1 after exposure (1.036, p < .05), and on African Americans on days 1, 2, and 3. PM(2.5) had no significant effect on Caucasian Americans alone. The disparity in risk estimates by race may reflect differences in residential characteristics, exposure to ambient air pollution, or a differential effect of pollution by race.

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