MONDAY, Dec. 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Short-term exposure to fine particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5) is associated with increased hospital admission risks and costs, according to a study published online Nov. 27 in The BMJ.

Yaguang Wei, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used Medicare inpatient hospital claims for 95,227,169 patients from 2000 to 2012 to assess the risks and costs of hospital admission associated with short-term exposure to PM2.5 for 214 disease groups.

The researchers identified positive associations between short-term PM2.5 exposure and risk for hospital admission for several prevalent diseases, including septicemia, fluid and electrolyte disorders, and acute and unspecified renal failure, which are rarely studied. Confirming previously published results, positive associations were observed between the risk for hospital admission and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, Parkinson disease, diabetes, phlebitis, thrombophlebitis, and thromboembolism. When restricted to days with a daily PM2.5 concentration below the World Health Organization air quality guideline for the 24-hour average exposure to PM2.5, these associations remained consistent. A 1 µg/m³ increase in short-term PM2.5 correlated with an annual increase of 2,050 hospital admissions, 12,216 days in the hospital, $31 million in inpatient and post-acute care costs, and $2.5 billion in value of statistical life for the rarely studied diseases.

“Economic analysis suggests that even a small increase in short-term exposure to PM2.5 is associated with substantial economic effect,” the authors write.

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