Associations between dust exposure and hospitalizations in a dust-prone city, Lubbock, TX, USA


Although it is a growing area of investigation in the Global Dust Belt, only a few population-level studies have evaluated the human health associations of windblown dust in North America. We investigated whether acute, short-term dust exposures (DE), in Lubbock, Texas (a medium-sized, dust-prone city in the southern Great Plains, USA) were associated with significant increases in hospitalizations on the day of the exposure and up to 7 days afterward. We used the distributed lag non-linear models in time series analysis to describe non-linear relationship between response outcomes and the delayed effects of exposure over time. We found that increased relative risks of hospitalizations for multiple conditions were associated with the two DE approaches that occurred between 2010 and 2014. Consistent with prior studies of dust health effects in other cities in North America, we identified increased hospitalization risks in Lubbock due to neurodegenerative, atherosclerosis, renal, respiratory, asthma, mental, stroke, neoplasms, ischemia, hematologic, musculoskeletal, and associated diseases (aggregation of all causes each associated with at least 5% of hospitalizations) at various dust exposure days. Associations were modified by age, gender, day of the week, and holiday effects. As climate change increases water stresses on dryland agriculture and long periods of drought, dust exposures are likely to increase for residents of dryland cities and with it the likelihood of adverse health effects on people with preexisting conditions. Additional investigations are needed for other dust-prone population centers worldwide to document the health effects of dust exposures and investigate their causes.


© 2023, The Author(s). cc-by


Dust, Health effects, Hospitalizations, Lubbock, Particulate matter, PM2.5, Wind speed


Herrera-Molina, E., Gill, T.E., Ibarra-Mejia, G., Jeon, S., & Ardon-Dryer, K.. 2023. Associations between dust exposure and hospitalizations in a dust-prone city, Lubbock, TX, USA. Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health.