Fluctuation analysis-based risk assessment for respiratory virus activity and air pollution associated asthma incidence


Asthma is a growing epidemic worldwide. Exacerbations of asthma have been associated with bacterial and viral respiratory tract infections and air pollution. We correlated the asthma admission rates with fluctuations in respiratory virus activity and traffic-related air pollution, namely particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 μm ($PM{10}$), nitrogen dioxide ($NO{2}$), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide ($SO{2}$), and ozone ($O{3}$). A probabilistic risk assessment framework was developed based on a detrended fluctuation analysis to predict future respiratory virus and air pollutant associated asthma incidence. Results indicated a strong association between asthma admission rate and influenza (r = 0.80, p < 0.05) and $SO{2}$ level (r = 0.73, p < 0.05) in Taiwan in the period 2001–2008. No significant correlation was found for asthma admission and $PM{10}$, $O{3}$, $NO{2}$, and CO. The proposed fluctuation analysis provides a simple correlation exponent describing the complex interactions of respiratory viruses and air pollutants with asthma. This study revealed that there was a 95% probability of having exceeded 2987 asthma admissions per 100,000 population. It was unlikely (30% probability) that the asthma admission rate exceeded 3492 per 100,000 population. The probability of asthma admission risk can be limited to below 50% by keeping the correlation exponent of influenza to below 0.9. We concluded that fluctuation analysis based risk assessment provides a novel predictor of asthma incidence.

Science of The Total Environment