Objective: to evaluate the relationship between air pollution and hospital admissions in 25 Italian cities that took part in the EpiAir (Epidemiological surveillance of air pollution effects among Italian cities) project.
Design: study of time series with case-crossover methodology, with adjustment for meteorological and time-dependent variables. The association air pollution hospitalisation was analyzed in each of the 25 cities involved in the study; the overall estimates of effect were obtained subsequently by means of a meta-analysis. The pollutants considered were PM10, PM2.5 (in 13 cities only), NO2 and ozone (O3); this last pollutant restricted to the summer season (April-September).
Setting and participants: the study has analyzed 2,246,448 urgent hospital admissions for non-accidental diseases in 25 Italian cities during the period 2006- 2010; 10 out of 25 cities took part also in the first phase of the project (2001-2005).
Main outcome measures: urgent hospital admissions for cardiac, cerebrovascular and respiratory diseases, for all age groups, were considered. The respiratory hospital admissions were analysed also for the 0-14-year subgroup. Percentage increases risk of hospitalization associated with increments of 10 µg/m(3) and interquartile range (IQR) of the concentration of each pollutant were calculated.
Results: reported results were related to an increment of 10 µg/m(3) of air pollutant. The percent increase for PM10 for cardiac causes was 0.34% at lag 0 (95%CI 0.04-0.63), for respiratory causes 0.75% at lag 0-5 (95%CI 0.25-1.25). For PM2.5, the percent increase for respiratory causes was 1.23% at lag 0- 5 (95%CI 0.58-1.88). For NO2, the percent increase for cardiac causes was 0.57% at lag 0 (95%CI 0.13-1.02); 1.29% at lag 0-5 (95%CI 0.52-2.06) for respiratory causes. Ozone (O3) did not turned out to be positively associated neither with cardiac nor with respiratory causes as noted in the previous period (2001-2005).
Conclusion: the results of the study confirm an association between PM10, PM2.5, and NO2 on hospital admissions among 25 Italian cities. No positive associations for ozone was noted in this period.