BackgroundOutdoor aeroallergens are one of a number of environmental factors thought to precipitate asthma exacerbations.
AimsTo investigate the short term associations between daily fungal spore concentrations and indicators of daily asthma exacerbations in a large urban population.
MethodsDaily counts of visits for asthma to family physicians and hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments and emergency hospital admissions in London 1992-93 were compiled. Daily concentrations of fungal spores (30 species), daily average temperature, humidity, and concentrations of pollen and outdoor air pollution were also compiled. The analysis was restricted to the period when fungal spores were most prevalent (June to mid October). Non-parametric regression time series methods were used to assess associations controlling for seasonality, day of week, and meteorological factors. The sensitivity of the findings to the inclusion of pollen and air pollution into the models was also assessed.
ResultsIn children aged 0-14 years the relative risks for increases in the number of A&E visits and hospital admissions associated with changes in fungal spore concentrations from the lower to upper quartiles were 1.06 (95% CI 0.94 to 1.18) and 1.07 (0.97 to 1.19) respectively. The addition of pollen or air pollutants had little impact on the observed associations. A number of individual spore taxa, in particular Alternaria, Epicoccum, Agrocybe, Mildews, and both coloured and colourless Basidiospores and Ascospores, were associated with increases in the number of emergency visits and hospital admissions for asthma, although the precision of these estimates were low. No evidence was found for associations in adults.
ConclusionsFungal spore concentrations may provoke or exacerbate asthma attacks in children resulting in visits to A&E departments and emergency hospital admissions. These findings were unlikely to be due to confounding by other environmental factors. The associations were comparable to those observed for ambient air pollution from similarly designed studies.
SUBMITTER: Atkinson RW