Ozone-related asthma emergency department visits in the US in a warming climate
Nassikas, N., K. Spangler, N. Fann, C. Nolte, Patrick Dolwick, T. Spero, P. Sheffield, AND G. Willenius. Ozone-related asthma emergency department visits in the US in a warming climate. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH. Elsevier B.V., Amsterdam, Netherlands, 183:109206, (2020). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2020.109206
Elevated ozone concentrations can exacerbate asthma symptoms for susceptible individuals, potentially leading to emergency department (ED) visits, absence from work or school, and even death. This study estimates ozone-attributable ED visits for two future climate scenarios at 2050, one following a higher climate change scenario and one under a lower (mitigation) climate scenario, and discusses the differences in ED visits and resulting economic impacts between the two scenarios.
Ozone exposure is associated with higher risk of asthma-related emergency department visits. The meteorological conditions that govern ozone concentration are projected to be more favorable to ozone formation over much of the United States due to continued climate change, even as emissions of anthropogenic ozone precursors are expected to decrease by 2050. Our goal is to quantify the health benefits of a climate change mitigation scenario versus a “business-as-usual” scenario, defined by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 4.5 and 8.5, respectively, using the health impact analytical program Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program – Community Edition (BenMAP – CE) to project the number of asthma ED visits in 2045–2055. We project an annual average of 3100 averted ozone-related asthma ED visits during the 2045–2055 period under RCP4.5 versus RCP8.5, with all other factors held constant, which translates to USD $1.7 million in averted costs annually. We identify counties with tens to hundreds of avoided ozone-related asthma ED visits under RCP4.5 versus RCP8.5. Overall, we project a heterogeneous distribution of ozone-related asthma ED visits at different spatial resolutions, specifically national, regional, and county levels, and a substantial net health and economic benefit of climate change mitigation.
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