The health effects of PM₁₀ air pollution in Reefton, South Island New Zealand.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The aim of this thesis is to assess the health effects of PM₁₀ air pollution in Reefton which is located on the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand. Two principle objectives were investigated to achieve the overall aim. Firstly, whether there is a link between PM₁₀ exposure and increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions in Reefton. Secondly, the evaluation of whether PM₁₀ pollution exacerbates selected health symptoms associated with PM₁₀ exposure among study participants during a short term cohort study within Reefton. To address the first research objective, data for respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions were collected and comparisons were made with past-till-present PM₁₀ levels monitored in Reefton. The second research objective was carried out during a four week period in July 2008 in Reefton. A total of 78 people from the general population participated whereby they recorded their daily health status in a symptoms diary. Symptoms monitored included phlegm build-up, coughing, breathing problems, wheezing, throat discomfort, and eye irritation. Associations between PM₁₀ exposure and exacerbation of health symptoms among participants were examined through statistical analysis. Results showed no clear link between PM₁₀ exposure and increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions. The lack of association could be attributed to the limited amount of PM₁₀ data available for comparison, along with the low number of hospital admissions in Reefton due to the towns’ small population. Conversely, several associations were observed between PM₁₀ exposure and specific health symptoms among study participants. Associations were frequently small and positive while several reached statistical significance. In conclusion, PM₁₀ air pollution in Reefton could not be linked with an increase in respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, however it was associated with the exacerbation of several health symptoms known to be aggravated by exposure to PM₁₀.