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Working Paper: Asthma Medication Use and Air Pollution In California: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Paper Number: 2009-06

Document Date: 10/2009

Author(s): Charles Griffiths, Nathalie Simon and Tracey Woodruff

Subject Area(s): Ambient Air Quality; Risk Assessment; Children’s Health

Keywords: asthma; air pollution

Abstract: In this study, we examine the effects of chronic exposure to air pollution on asthma exacerbation through a cross-sectional analysis of asthma prescriptions for quick-relief medications at the 5 digit zip code level in California. Using information on the use of maintenance therapies by each patient, we are able to stratify our data by asthma severity as well as by age. In general, we find a positive relationship between asthma and both PM10 and ozone levels. We find that prescriptions for quick-acting inhalers for children increases with PM10, and this relationship generally does not level off effect except for mild intermittent asthmatics. Ozone also generally increases the number of prescriptions for ages 5 through17, as well as for severe asthmatics and some moderate asthmatics at younger ages. However, prescriptions and ozone show the opposite relationship for the adults and the very young (ages 0-4).

This paper is part of the Environmental Economics Working Paper Series.

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