Monitoring ambient air pollution and pulmonary function in asthmatic children by mobile applications in COVID-19 pandemic

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2023 May 4;251:114186. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2023.114186. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Several public health measures were implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, little is known about the real-time assessment of environmental exposure on the pulmonary function of asthmatic children. Therefore, we developed a mobile phone application for capturing real-time day-to-day dynamic changes in ambient air pollution during the pandemic. We aim to explore the change in ambient air pollutants between pre-lockdown, lockdowns, and lockdowns and analyze the association between pollutants and PEF mediated by mite sensitization and seasonal change.

METHOD: A prospective cohort study was conducted among 511 asthmatic children from January 2016 to February 2022. Smartphone-app used to record daily ambient air pollution, particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10) Ozon (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), average temperature, and relative humidity, which measured and connected from 77 nearby air monitoring stations by linking to Global Positioning System (GPS)-based software. The outcome of pollutants’ effect on peak expiratory flow meter (PEF) and asthma is measured by a smart peak flow meter from each patient or caregiver’s phone for real-time assessment.

RESULTS: The lockdown (May 19th, 2021, to July 27th, 2021) was associated with decreased levels of all ambient air pollutants aside from SO2 after adjusting for 2021. NO2 and SO2 were constantly associated with decreased levels of PEF across lag 0 (same day when the PEF was measured), lag 1 (one day before PEF was measured), and lag 2 (two days prior when the PEF was measured. Concentrations of CO were associated with PEF only in children who were sensitized to mites in lag 0, lag 1, and lag 2 in the stratification analysis for a single air pollutant model. Based on the season, spring has a higher association with the decrease of PEF in all pollutant exposure than other seasons.

CONCLUSION: Using our developed smartphone apps, we identified that NO2, CO, and PM10 were higher at the pre-and post-COVID-19 lockdowns than during the lockdown. Our smartphone apps may help collect personal air pollution data and lung function, especially for asthmatic patients, and may guide protection against asthma attacks. It provides a new model for individualized care in the COVID era and beyond.

PMID:37156054 | DOI:10.1016/j.ijheh.2023.114186

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