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Chemistry - Non-Clinical Medicine - Respiratory Medicine - Public Health and Epidemiology

Activity Change in Response to Bad Air Quality, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007–2010
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Author: Ellen M. Wells et al.

by Ellen M. Wells, Dorr G. Dearborn, Leila W. Jackson

Air pollution contributes to poor respiratory and cardiovascular health. Susceptible individuals may be advised to mitigate effects of air pollution through actions such as reducing outdoor physical activity on days with high pollution. Our analysis identifies the extent to which susceptible individuals changed activities due to bad air quality. This cross-sectional study included 10,898 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007–2010. Participants reported if they did something differently when air quality was bad. Susceptible categories included respiratory conditions, cardiovascular conditions and older age (=65 years). Analyses accounted for complex survey design; logistic regression models controlled for gender, race, education, smoking, and body mass index. 1305 individuals reported doing something differently (12.0%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 10.9, 13.1). This percentage was 14.2% (95% CI: 11.6, 16.8), 25.1% (95% CI: 21.7, 28.6), and 15.5% (95% CI: 12.2, 18.9) among older adults, those with a respiratory condition, and those with a cardiovascular condition, respectively. In adjusted regression models the following were significantly more likely to have changed activity compared to those who did not belong to any susceptible group: respiratory conditions (adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 2.61, 95% CI: 2.03, 3.35); respiratory and cardiovascular conditions (aOR: 4.36, 95% CI: 2.47, 7.69); respiratory conditions and older age (aOR: 3.83; 95% CI: 2.47, 5.96); or all three groups (aOR: 3.52; 95% CI: (2.33, 5.32). Having cardiovascular conditions alone was not statistically significant. Some individuals, especially those with a respiratory condition, reported changing activities due to poor air quality. However, efforts should continue to educate the public about air quality and health.