Crop burning and the prevalence of asthma and COPD emergency department treatments in a rural Arkansas county

J Asthma. 2021 Mar;58(3):293-298. doi: 10.1080/02770903.2019.1708096. Epub 2020 Jan 6.


Objective: To evaluate the impact of crop burning on the prevalence of asthma and COPD emergency department (ED) treatments in a rural Arkansas county.

Methods: Administrative datasets listing ED treatments for asthma and COPD obtained from the Arkansas Hospital Discharge Dataset System for the calendar years 2014-2016 were used in this semi-ecological study. Primary diagnosis codes (ICD-9: 490-496 and ICD-10: J40-J47) were used to identify patients who were diagnosed with asthma and COPD. Patients with a reported county of residence in Craighead County were determined as case county residents and those in Sebastian County were control county residents. Month of visit was used to determine seasonal variation. PM 2.5 air quality data were obtained from the EPA AQS Data Mart.

Results: Between 2014 through 2016, there were a combined total of 2,536 ED treatments due to asthma and 8,530 due to COPD in Craighead and Sebastian counties. The odds of being treated in the ED during the fall months for asthma and COPD are associated with a 20.9% increase and 16.9% increase respectively in Craighead County as compared to Sebastian Country after adjusting for potential confounders (p = 0.04, p = 0.003). PM 2.5 concentrations were higher in Craighead County than Sebastian County during the fall season (p = 0.005).

Conclusion: Fall ED treatments for asthma and COPD were higher in Craighead County, Arkansas compared to Sebastian County, Arkansas for the years 2014-2016. PM 2.5 levels were also higher in Craighead County in the fall during these years. These differences may be attributable to crop burning.​.

Keywords: Asthma; COPD; crop burning; particulate matter.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agriculture*
  • Air Pollution
  • Arkansas / epidemiology
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fires / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Racial Groups
  • Rural Population
  • Seasons
  • Young Adult