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Exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) during landscape fire events and the risk of cardiorespiratory emergency department attendances: a time-series study in Perth, Western Australia


Background Landscape fires (LFs) are the main source of elevated particulate matter (PM2.5) in Australian cities and towns. This study examined the associations between daily exposure to fine PM2.5 during LF events and daily emergency department attendances (EDA) for all causes, respiratory and cardiovascular outcomes.

Methods Daily PM2.5 was estimated using a model that included PM2.5 measurements on the previous day, remotely sensed aerosols and fires, hand-drawn tracing of smoke plumes from satellite images, fire danger ratings and the atmosphere venting index. Daily PM2.5 was then categorised as high (≥99th percentile), medium (96th–98th percentile) and low (≤95th percentile). Daily EDA for all-cause and cardiorespiratory conditions were obtained from the Western Australian Emergency Department Data Collection. We used population-based cohort time-series multivariate regressions with 95% CIs to assess modelled daily PM2.5 and EDA associations from 2015 to 2017. We estimated the lag-specific associations and cumulative risk ratios (RR) at lags of 0–3 days, adjusted for sociodemographic factors, weather and time.

Results All-cause EDA and overall cardiovascular presentations increased on all lagged days and up to 5% (RR 1.05, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.06) and 7% (RR 1.07, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.12), respectively, at the high level. High-level exposure was also associated with increased acute lower respiratory tract infections at 1 (RR 1.19, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.29) and 3 (RR 1.17, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.23) days lags and transient ischaemic attacks at 1 day (RR 1.25, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.53) and 2 (RR 1.20, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.42) days lag.

Conclusions Exposure to PM2.5 concentrations during LFs was associated with an increased risk of all-cause EDA, overall EDA cardiovascular diseases, acute respiratory tract infections and transient ischaemic attacks.

  • epidemiology
  • public health
  • air pollution

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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