Background: From the early 1900s until its closure in February 1998, a Steel coke oven in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a key source of air pollution. A case-crossover study was performed to assess the associations between daily air pollution and cardiorespiratory (International Classification of Disease Ninth Revision [ICD-9]: 390–519) hospitalizations before and after plant closure and to evaluate how closure influenced these associations.
Methods: Air pollution data, climatic data, and cardiorespiratory hospitalizations among residents ages 65 years and older were obtained for the period of 1996 through 2000 for the study area. Data were analyzed using a case-crossover design and conditional logistical regression. Two distinct referent-sampling approaches were compared.
Results: Significant associations were observed between the fourth quartile in PM10 and cardiorespiratory hospitalizations (odds ratio [OR]: 1.12; 95% CI: 1.02–1.23) and cardiovascular hospitalizations only (ICD-9: 390–459) (OR: 1.13; 95% CI: 1.01–1.26) before the plant closure. After closure of the plant, PM10 was not significantly associated with cardiorespiratory or cardiovascular disease hospitalizations. Moreover, the referent sampling approaches did not greatly alter the estimations in the case-crossover analysis.
Conclusions: Existing secondary data are an economical source to assess the impact of point source pollution on the environmental landscape. The findings suggest that closure of the steel coke plant was associated with a reduction risk of the cardiovascular hospitalizations.