Background: Relationships between chronic exposures to air pollution and respiratory health outcomes have yet to be clearly articulated for adults. Recent data from nationally representative surveys suggest increasing disparity by race/ethnicity regarding asthma-related morbidity and mortality. The objectives of this study are to evaluate the relationship between annual average ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations and respiratory outcomes for adults using modeled air pollution and health outcome data and to examine PM2.5 sensitivity across race/ethnicity.
Methods: Respondents from the 2002-2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) were linked to annual kriged PM2.5 data from the USEPA AirData system. Logistic regression was employed to investigate increases in ambient PM2.5 concentrations and self-reported prevalence of respiratory outcomes including asthma, sinusitis and chronic bronchitis. Models included health, behavioral, demographic and resource-related covariates. Stratified analyses were conducted by race/ethnicity.
Results: Of nearly 110,000 adult respondents, approximately 8,000 and 4,000 reported current asthma and recent attacks, respectively. Overall, odds ratios (OR) for current asthma (0.97 (95% Confidence Interval: 0.87-1.07)) and recent attacks (0.90 (0.78-1.03)) did not suggest an association with a 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5. Stratified analyses revealed significant associations for non-Hispanic blacks [OR = 1.73 (1.17-2.56) for current asthma and OR = 1.76 (1.07-2.91) for recent attacks] but not for Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. Significant associations were observed overall (1.18 (1.08-1.30)) and in non-Hispanic whites (1.31 (1.18-1.46)) for sinusitis, but not for chronic bronchitis.
Conclusions: Non-Hispanic blacks may be at increased sensitivity of asthma outcomes from PM2.5 exposure. Increased chronic PM2.5 exposures in adults may contribute to population sinusitis burdens.