Combined effects of air pollution and extreme heat events among ESKD patients within the Northeastern United States

Sci Total Environ. 2022 Mar 15:812:152481. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152481. Epub 2021 Dec 16.


Background: Increasing number of studies have linked air pollution exposure with renal function decline and disease. However, there is a lack of data on its impact among end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) patients and its potential modifying effect from extreme heat events (EHE).

Methods: Fresenius Kidney Care records from 28 selected northeastern US counties were used to pool daily all-cause mortality (ACM) and all-cause hospital admissions (ACHA) counts. County-level daily ambient PM2.5 and ozone (O3) were estimated using a high-resolution spatiotemporal coupled climate-air quality model and matched to ESKD patients based on ZIP codes of treatment sites. We used time-stratified case-crossover analyses to characterize acute exposures using individual and cumulative lag exposures for up to 3 days (Lag 0-3) by using a distributed lag nonlinear model framework. We used a nested model comparison hypothesis test to evaluate for interaction effects between air pollutants and EHE and stratification analyses to estimate effect measures modified by EHE days.

Results: From 2001 to 2016, the sample population consisted of 43,338 ESKD patients. We recorded 5217 deaths and 78,433 hospital admissions. A 10-unit increase in PM2.5 concentration was associated with a 5% increase in ACM (rate ratio [RRLag0-3]: 1.05, 95% CI: 1.00-1.10) and same-day O3 (RRLag0: 1.02, 95% CI: 1.01-1.03) after adjusting for extreme heat exposures. Mortality models suggest evidence of interaction and effect measure modification, though not always simultaneously. ACM risk increased up to 8% when daily ozone concentrations exceeded National Ambient Air Quality Standards established by the United States, but the increases in risk were considerably higher during EHE days across lag periods.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest interdependent effects of EHE and air pollution among ESKD patients for all-cause mortality risks. National level assessments are needed to consider the ESKD population as a sensitive population and inform treatment protocols during extreme heat and degraded pollution episodes.

Keywords: Acute exposures; Effect modification; End-stage renal disease; Extreme heat events; Hemodialysis; Interaction; Ozone; Particulate matter.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants* / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Air Pollution* / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution* / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Extreme Heat*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic*
  • Ozone* / adverse effects
  • Ozone* / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • United States


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Ozone