The United States (U.S.) suffers from high infant mortality (IM) rates and there are significant racial/ethnic differences in these rates. Prior studies on the environment and infant mortality are generally limited to singular exposures. We utilize the Environmental Quality Index (EQI), a measure of cumulative environmental exposure (across air, water, land, sociodemographic, and land domains) for U.S. counties from 2000 to 2005, to investigate associations between ambient environment and IM across maternal race/ethnicity. We linked 2000–2005 infant data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the EQI (n = 22,702,529; 144,741 deaths). We utilized multi-level regression to estimate associations between quartiles of county-level EQI and IM. We also considered associations between quartiles of county level domain specific indices with IM. We controlled for rural-urban status (RUCC1: urban, metropolitan; RUCC2: urban, non-metropolitan; RUCC3: less urbanized; RUCC4: thinly populated), maternal age, maternal education, marital status, infant sex, and stratified on race/ethnicity. Additionally, we estimated associations for linear combinations of environmental quality and rural-urban status. We found a mix of positive, negative, and null associations and our findings varied across domain and race/ethnicity. Poorer overall environmental quality was associated with decreased odds among Non-Hispanic whites (OR and 95% CI: EQIQ4 (ref. EQIQ1): 0.84[0.80,0.89]). For Non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics, some increased odds were observed. Poorer air quality was monotonically associated with increased odds among Non-Hispanic whites (airQ4 (ref. airQ1): 1.05[0.99,1.11]) and blacks (airQ4 (ref. airQ1): 1.09 [0.9,1.31]). Rural status was associated with increased IM odds among Hispanics (RUCC4-Q4:1.36[1.04,1.78]; RUCC1-Q4: 1.04[0.92,1.16], ref. for both RUCC1-Q1). This study is the first to report on associations between ambient environmental quality and IM across the United States. It corroborates prior research suggesting an association between air pollution and IM and identifies residence in thinly populated (rural) areas as a potential risk factor towards IM amongst Hispanics. Some of the counterintuitive findings highlight the need for additional research into potentially differential drivers of environmental quality across the rural-urban continuum, especially with regards to the sociodemographic environment.
The association between physical inactivity and obesity is modified by five domains of environmental quality in U.S. adu...Published: 30 August 2018 by Public Library of Science (PLoS) in PLOS ONE
Physical inactivity is a primary contributor to the obesity epidemic, but may be promoted or hindered by environmental factors. To examine how cumulative environmental quality may modify the inactivity-obesity relationship, we conducted a cross-sectional study by linking county-level Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data with the Environmental Quality Index (EQI), a composite measure of five environmental domains (air, water, land, built, sociodemographic) across all U.S. counties. We estimated the county-level association (N = 3,137 counties) between 2009 age-adjusted leisure-time physical inactivity (LTPIA) and 2010 age-adjusted obesity from BRFSS across EQI tertiles using multi-level linear regression, with a random intercept for state, adjusted for percent minority and rural-urban status. We modelled overall and sex-specific estimates, reporting prevalence differences (PD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). In the overall population, the PD increased from best (PD = 0.341 (95% CI: 0.287, 0.396)) to worst (PD = 0.645 (95% CI: 0.599, 0.690)) EQI tertile. We observed similar trends in males from best (PD = 0.244 (95% CI: 0.194, 0.294)) to worst (PD = 0.601 (95% CI: 0.556, 0.647)) quality environments, and in females from best (PD = 0.446 (95% CI: 0.385, 0.507)) to worst (PD = 0.655 (95% CI: 0.607, 0.703)). We found that poor environmental quality exacerbates the LTPIA-obesity relationship. Efforts to improve obesity through LTPIA may benefit from considering this relationship.
Assessing cumulative effects of the multiple environmental factors influencing mortality remains a challenging task.
Additive Interaction between Heterogeneous Environmental Quality Domains (Air, Water, Land, Sociodemographic, and Built ...Published: 24 October 2016 by Frontiers Media SA in Frontiers in Public Health
Background: Environmental exposures often occur in tandem; however, epidemiological research often focuses on singular exposures. Statistical interactions among broad, well-characterized environmental domains have not yet been evaluated in association with health. We address this gap by conducting a county-level cross-sectional analysis of interactions between Environmental Quality Index (EQI) domain indices on preterm birth in the Unites States from 2000 to 2005.
A more comprehensive estimate of environmental quality would improve our understanding of the relationship between environmental conditions and human health. An environmental quality index (EQI) for all counties in the U.S. was developed.
Putting Regulatory Data to Work at the Service of Public Health: Utilizing Data Collected Under the Clean Water ActPublished: 02 July 2013 by Springer Nature in Water Quality, Exposure and Health
Under the Clean Water Act, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects information from states on intended use and impairment of each water body. We explore the feasibility of using these data, collected for regulatory purposes, for public health analyses. Combining EPA impairment data and stream hydrology information we estimated the percent of stream length impaired for any use, recreational use, or drinking water use per county in the US as exposure variables. For health outcomes we abstracted county-level hospitalization rates of gastrointestinal infections, GI (ICD-9CM 001-009 excluding 008.45) and gastrointestinal symptoms, GS (ICD-9CM 558.9, 787) among US adults aged 65 years and older from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (1991–2004). Linear mixed-effects models were used to assess county-level associations between percent impaired waters and hospitalization rates adjusted for population density, a proxy for person-to-person transmission. Contrary to expectation, both GI and GS were negatively associated with any water impairment in adjusted models (GI: −0.052, 95 % CI: −0.077, −0.028; GS: −0.438, 95 % CI: −0.702, −0.174). GI was also negatively associated with recreational water impairment (−0.079, 95 % CI: −0.123, −0.036 after adjustment). Neither outcome was associated with drinking water impairment. Limited state data were reported to the EPA for specific recreational (27 states) and drinking (13 states) water impairment, thus limiting the power of the study. Though limited, this analysis demonstrates the feasibility of utilizing regulatory data for public health analyses.
Seasonality of Rotavirus in South Asia: A Meta-Analysis Approach Assessing Associations with Temperature, Precipitation,...Published: 31 May 2012 by Public Library of Science (PLoS) in PLOS ONE
Rotavirus infection causes a significant proportion of diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide leading to dehydration, hospitalization, and in some cases death. Rotavirus infection represents a significant burden of disease in developing countries, such as those in South Asia. We conducted a meta-analysis to examine how patterns of rotavirus infection relate to temperature and precipitation in South Asia. Monthly rotavirus data were abstracted from 39 published epidemiological studies and related to monthly aggregated ambient temperature and cumulative precipitation for each study location using linear mixed-effects models. We also considered associations with vegetation index, gathered from remote sensing data. Finally, we assessed whether the relationship varied in tropical climates and humid mid-latitude climates. Overall, as well as in tropical and humid mid-latitude climates, low temperature and precipitation levels are significant predictors of an increased rate of rotaviral diarrhea. A 1°C decrease in monthly ambient temperature and a decrease of 10 mm in precipitation are associated with 1.3% and 0.3% increase above the annual level in rotavirus infections, respectively. When assessing lagged relationships, temperature and precipitation in the previous month remained significant predictors and the association with temperature was stronger in the tropical climate. The same association was seen for vegetation index; a seasonal decline of 0.1 units results in a 3.8% increase in rate of rotavirus. In South Asia the highest rate of rotavirus was seen in the colder, drier months. Meteorological characteristics can be used to better focus and target public health prevention programs.
Waterborne gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses demonstrate seasonal increases associated with water quality and meteorological characteristics. However, few studies have been conducted on the association of hydrological parameters, such as streamflow, and seasonality of GI illnesses. Streamflow is correlated with biological contamination and can be used as proxy for drinking water contamination. We compare seasonal patterns of GI illnesses in the elderly (65 years and older) along the Ohio River for a 14-year period (1991–2004) to seasonal patterns of streamflow. Focusing on six counties in close proximity to the river, we compiled weekly time series of hospitalizations for GI illnesses and streamflow data. Seasonal patterns were explored using Poisson annual harmonic regression with and without adjustment for streamflow. GI illnesses demonstrated significant seasonal patterns with peak timing preceding peak timing of streamflow for all six counties. Seasonal patterns of illness remain consistent after adjusting for streamflow. This study found that the time of peak GI illness precedes the peak of streamflow, suggesting either an indirect relationship or a more direct path whereby pathogens enter water supplies prior to the peak in streamflow. Such findings call for interdisciplinary research to better understand associations among streamflow, pathogen loading, and rates of gastrointestinal illnesses.