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Article

Impact of a Large Fire and Subsequent Pollution Control Failure at a Coke Works on Acute Asthma Exacerbations in Nearby Adult Residents

1
Morphew Consulting LLC, Bothell, WA 98021, USA
2
Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, USA
3
Clean Air Task Force, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA
4
Breathe Project, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA
5
Anderson Environmental Health LLC, Winslow, ME 04901, USA
6
Community Partners in Asthma Care, McMurray, PA 15317, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Swapna Upadhyay
Toxics 2021, 9(7), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9070147
Received: 18 April 2021 / Revised: 11 June 2021 / Accepted: 21 June 2021 / Published: 25 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Exposure to Air Pollution on Respiratory Health)
Clairton, Pennsylvania, is home to the largest coke works facility in the United States (US). On 24 December 2018, a large fire occurred at this facility and damaged pollution control equipment. Although repairs were not completed for several months, production continued at pre-fire capacity and daily emissions increased by 24 to 35 times, with multiple exceedances of monitored levels of outdoor air pollution (OAP). The aim of this study was to objectively evaluate the impact of this industrial incident and resultant OAP exceedances on asthma morbidity. We assessed pre-fire and post-fire rate ratios (RR) of outpatient and emergency department (ED) visits for asthma exacerbations among nearby adult residents. Pre-fire versus post-fire RRs increased for both visit types: RR = 1.82 (95% CI: 1.30, 2.53; p < 0.001) and 1.84 (95% CI: 1.05, 3.22; p = 0.032) for outpatient and ED visits, respectively. Additionally, total visit rates increased on days with OAP exceedances: RR = 2.47 (95% CI: 1.52, 4.01; p < 0.0001), 1.58 (95% CI: 1.00, 2.48; p = 0.048) and 1.79 (95% CI: 1.27, 2.54; p = 0.001) for PM2.5, SO2, and H2S exceedance days, respectively. These results show a near doubling of acute visits for asthma exacerbations in nearby adult residents during this industrial incident and underscore the need for prompt remediation and public notification of OAP exceedances to prevent adverse health impacts. View Full-Text
Keywords: asthma; outdoor air pollution; particulate matter; sulfur dioxide; hydrogen sulfide asthma; outdoor air pollution; particulate matter; sulfur dioxide; hydrogen sulfide
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MDPI and ACS Style

Morphew, T.L.; Venkat, A.; Graham, J.; Mehalik, M.; Anderson, N.; Gentile, D. Impact of a Large Fire and Subsequent Pollution Control Failure at a Coke Works on Acute Asthma Exacerbations in Nearby Adult Residents. Toxics 2021, 9, 147. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9070147

AMA Style

Morphew TL, Venkat A, Graham J, Mehalik M, Anderson N, Gentile D. Impact of a Large Fire and Subsequent Pollution Control Failure at a Coke Works on Acute Asthma Exacerbations in Nearby Adult Residents. Toxics. 2021; 9(7):147. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9070147

Chicago/Turabian Style

Morphew, Tricia L., Arvind Venkat, John Graham, Matthew Mehalik, Norman Anderson, and Deborah Gentile. 2021. "Impact of a Large Fire and Subsequent Pollution Control Failure at a Coke Works on Acute Asthma Exacerbations in Nearby Adult Residents" Toxics 9, no. 7: 147. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics9070147

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