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Keywords:

  • air pollution;
  • dust storm;
  • hospital admission;
  • respiratory diseases

ABSTRACT

Background and objective:  The harmful effect of dust storm on lung health is controversial. This study aimed to assess any associations between dust storms and emergency hospital admissions due to respiratory disease in Hong Kong.

Methods:  Data on daily emergency admissions for respiratory diseases to major hospitals in Hong Kong, and indices of air pollutants and meteorological variables from January 1998 to December 2002 were obtained from several government departments. We identified five dust storm days during the study period. Independent t-tests were used to compare the mean daily number of admissions on dust storm and non-dust storm days. Case-crossover analysis using the Poisson regression was used to examine the effects of PM10 to emergency hospital admissions due to respiratory diseases.

Results:  Significant increases in emergency hospital admission due to COPD were found 2 days after dust storm episode. The relative risk of PM10 for lag 2 days was 1.05 (95% CI: 1.01–1.09) per 10 µg/m3.

Conclusions:  Dust storms have an adverse effect on emergency hospital admission for COPD in Hong Kong. This also suggests the adverse effect of coarse particles on lung health.