Construction and manufacturing sites produce airborne toxins that may affect nearby residents’ respiratory health. Living in heavy industrial sites has been linked to respiratory conditions such as asthma and pneumonia. However, limited information is available for risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a form of acute respiratory failure with high incidence among older adults.
We conducted a nationwide ecologic study to investigate associations between annual ZIP code-level changes in industrial activity and annual changes in ZIP code-level hospital admission rates for older community residents. Using adjusted generalized linear mixed models, we analyzed data from nearly 30 million yearly Medicare beneficiaries for the years 2006 through 2012.
We found on average 92,363 hospital admissions for ARDS per year and 646,542 admissions over the course of 7 years. We found that an increase of 10 construction sites per year was associated with a 0.77% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.71, 0.84) increase in annual hospital admission rates for ARDS and an increase of 10 manufacturing industries per year was associated with a 1.21% (95% CI = 1.09, 1.33) increase in annual hospital admission rates for ARDS across all ZIP codes. The estimated effect of chemical product manufacturing industry on ARDS was higher than that of total manufacturing industries. Residing in ZIP codes with a high number of construction or manufacturing sites was associated with increased ARDS hospital admissions.
This nationwide ecologic study of older adults suggests that residence in areas with more construction and manufacturing sites is associated with increased ARDS risk.