The relationship of short-term air pollution and weather to ED visits for asthma in Japan

Am J Emerg Med. 2009 Feb;27(2):153-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2008.01.013.


Introduction: The incidence of asthma exacerbation has been increasing in many countries. Environmental factors may play an important role in this trend. We aimed to investigate the relationship of weather conditions and air pollution to significant exacerbation of asthma.

Methods: The daily number of emergency department (ED) visits by ambulance for asthma was collected through records of the Tokyo Fire Department from January 1 to December 31, 2005. We also collected daily air pollution levels and meteorological data for Tokyo during the same period. Meteorological data included minimum temperature, maximum barometric pressure, maximum relative humidity, and precipitation. Measured air pollutants included sulfur dioxide, nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen oxides, suspended particulate matter, and carbon monoxide. We performed a time series analysis using multivariable-adjusted autoregressive integrated moving average model. The analysis was conducted separately among adults and among children (<15 years old).

Results: Of a total of 643,849 patients who were transported to the ED by ambulance, there were 6447 patients with exacerbation of asthma. Among adults, lower minimum temperature was significantly associated with increased transport. Among children, there were no significant associations between exacerbation of asthmas requiring emergency transport and air pollutants or meteorological factors. The highest number of transports was found on October 11, the day after the National Sports Day in Japan.

Conclusions: Cold temperature is related to an increased risk of significant exacerbation of asthma in adults. Air pollution does not seem to play a major role in significant exacerbation of asthma requiring ambulance transports to ED.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Urban Population
  • Weather*