Influences of socioeconomic vulnerability and intra-urban air pollution exposure on short-term mortality during extreme dust events

Hung Chak Ho, Man Sing Wong, Lin Yang, Ta Chien Chan, Muhammad Bilal

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Air pollution has been shown to be significantly associated with morbidity and mortality in urban areas, but there is lack of studies focused on extreme pollution events such as extreme dust episodes in high-density Asian cities. However, such cities have had extreme climate episodes that could have adverse health implications for downwind areas. More importantly, few studies have comprehensively investigated the mortality risks of extreme dust events for socioeconomically vulnerable populations. This paper examined the association between air pollutants and mortality risk in Hong Kong from 2006 to 2010, with a case-crossover analysis, to determine the elevated risk after an extreme dust event in a high-density city. The results indicate that PM 10-2.5 dominated the all-cause mortality effect at the lag 0 day (OR: 1.074 [1.051, 1.098]). This study also found that people who were aged ≥ 65, economically inactive, or non-married had higher risks of all-cause mortality and cardiorespiratory mortality during days with extreme dust events. In addition, people who were in areas with higher air pollution had significantly higher risks of all-cause mortality and cardiorespiratory mortality. In conclusion, the results of this study can be used to target the vulnerable among a population or an area and the day(s) at risk to assist in health protocol development and emergency planning, as well as to develop early warnings for the general public in order to mitigate potential mortality risk for vulnerable population groups caused by extreme dust events. Data-driven methods are established 1) to identify socioeconomically vulnerable populations and high-risk areas across a city, and 2) to evaluate the utility of more general health protocols prior to their adoption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-162
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Extreme dust events
  • Short-term mortality risk
  • Social vulnerability
  • Socioeconomic vulnerability
  • Spatial analytics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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