FRIDAY, Oct. 26, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Air pollution accounts for millions of emergency room visits for asthma each year, according to a study published Oct. 24 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Susan C. Anenberg, Ph.D., from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues used epidemiological health impact functions combined with data describing population, baseline asthma incidence and prevalence, and pollutant concentrations to estimate the contribution of ambient air pollution to asthma emergency room visits and new onset asthma cases.

The researchers estimated that in 2015, 9 to 23 million annual asthma emergency room visits could be attributed to ozone and 5 to 10 million could be attributed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5); these visits represented 8 to 20 and 4 to 9 percent of the annual number of global visits, respectively. Anthropogenic emissions were responsible for about 37 percent of ozone and 73 percent of PM2.5 impacts, respectively. Naturally occurring ozone precursor emissions and PM2.5 accounted for the remaining impacts, although several of these sources were also influenced by humans. China and India had the largest impacts estimated.

“We know that air pollution is the leading environmental health risk factor globally,” Anenberg said in a statement. “Our results show that the range of global public health impacts from breathing dirty air are even more far reaching — and include millions of asthma attacks every year.”

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