Harvard study links short-term exposure to PM2.5 with risks of hospital admissions


New Delhi, November 30, 2019:

NIH Funded Study: Hospitalizations for  septicaemia, fluid and electrolyte imbalance, kidney failure, urinary tract infections, and skin and tissue infections are linked for the first time with short-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5), according to a comprehensive new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published in BMJ.

Fine particulate air pollution are tiny solids and liquids floating in the air and coming from motor vehicles, coal-fired power plants, and wildfires. When inhaled, the particles can enter deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems.

Researchers classified the diseases into 214 disease groups. They then analyzed 13 years’ worth of hospital admissions records, from 2000 to 2012, from more than 95 million inpatient hospital claims for Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older and compared it with daily PM2.5 levels using a computer model that predicts exposure using satellite-based measurements and a computer simulation of air pollution.


In addition to showing association with several newly identified causes of hospital admissions it also confirmed earlier links with several cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes.

Each 1 μg/m3 increase in short-term exposure to PM2.5 was associated with an annual increase of 5,692 hospitalizations, 32,314 days in the hospital, and 634 deaths, corresponding to $100 million annual inpatient and post-acute care costs, and $6.5 billion in “value of statistical life” (a metric used to determine the economic value of lives lost).

Healthy Soch

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