The effects of the 2009 dust storm on emergency admissions to a hospital in Brisbane, Australia

Barnett, Adrian G., Fraser, John F., & Munck, Lynette (2011) The effects of the 2009 dust storm on emergency admissions to a hospital in Brisbane, Australia. International Journal of Biometeorology, Springer Online First Publication.

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In September 2009 an enormous dust storm swept across eastern Australia. Dust is potentially hazardous to health as it interferes with breathing, and previous dust storms have been linked to increased risks of asthma and even death. We examined whether the 2009 Australian dust storm changed the volume or characteristics of emergency admissions to hospital. We used an observational study design, using time series analyses to examine changes in the number of admissions, and case-only analyses to examine changes in the characteristics of admissions. The admission data were from the Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane, between 1 January 2009 and 31 October 2009. There was a 39% increase in emergency admissions associated with the storm (95% confidence interval: 5, 81%), which lasted for just one day. The health effects of the storm could not be detected using particulate matter levels. We found no significant change in the characteristics of admissions during the storm, specifically there was no increase in respiratory admissions. The dust storm had a short-lived impact on emergency hospital admissions. This may be because the public took effective avoidance measures, or because the dust was simply not toxic, being mainly composed of soil. Emergency departments should be prepared for a short-term increase in admissions during dust storms.

Impact and interest:

19 citations in Scopus
18 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 46366
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Springer Online First Publication
Keywords: air pollution, dust storm, emergency admissions , particulate matter
DOI: 10.1007/s00484-011-0473-y
ISSN: 0020-7128
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Epidemiology (111706)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Springer
Copyright Statement: The original publication is available at SpringerLink
Deposited On: 09 Oct 2011 22:04
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2011 22:32

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