(HealthDay News) – Long-term exposure to fine particulate matter in the air increases hospital admissions for respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and diabetes in the elderly considerably more than short-term exposure does.

To look at the effect of long-term exposure to fine particulate matter on hospital admissions, Itai Kloog, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used models based on satellite observations, emissions, traffic, and weather to predict the levels of air particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) all over New England. The impact of long- and short-term exposure to PM2.5 was assessed for all respiratory, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes admissions for residents aged >65 years.

The researchers found that short- and long-term exposure to PM2.5 was associated with respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes admissions. For every 10g/m³ increase in long-term exposure, there was a 4.22% increase in respiratory admissions, a 3.12% increase in cardiovascular admissions, a 3.49% increase in stroke admissions, and a 6.33% increase in diabetes admissions. This compared with increases in admissions of 0.70, 1.03, 0.24, and 0.96%, respectively, for every 10µg/m³ increase in short-term exposure.

“As with mortality studies, chronic exposure to particles is associated with substantially larger increases in hospital admissions than acute exposure and both can be detected simultaneously using our exposure models,” Kloog and colleagues conclude.

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