Ambient hydrocarbons are important precursors of ground-level ozone and secondary organic aerosol formation. However, few studies have assessed the health impact of airborne hydrocarbons. We conducted this time series ecological study to evaluate the association of short-term airborne hydrocarbons exposure with hospital admissions for respiratory diseases, while controlling for co-exposure to criteria pollutants. Taipei air pollution and weather data for the period spanning from January 2010 to December 2017 were obtained from Taiwan Air Quality Monitoring Network. Subsequently, daily pollutant concentrations were linked with daily hospital admission counts for respiratory diseases into a time series data frame. The standard generalized additive Poisson model adjusted for temporal trends, seasonal variations, weather conditions, and calendar effects, was applied to examine the short-term associations of acute airborne hydrocarbon exposure with respiratory hospital admissions. Next, the robustness of the associations was tested using two-pollutant models with further adjustment for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and gaseous pollutants. The results demonstrated that an interquartile range increase in non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) exposure on lag0 day (0.15 ppm) was associated with a 0.86% (95% confidence interval: 0.37%–1.36%), 2.06% (0.77%–3.38%), and 1.25% (0.31%–2.20%) increment in all-respiratory-disease-, asthma-, and chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-linked hospital admissions, respectively. The associations were robust with further adjustment for co-exposure to PM2.5 and ozone. The acute effect estimate of methane on each respiratory category was sensitive to the co-pollutant adjustment and lost statistical significance in the two-pollutant models. In conclusion, we confirmed that airborne NMHC exposure increased the risk of respiratory-disease-related hospital admissions in Taipei; this information may aid in the regulation of hydrocarbon pollution.
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