BMC Public Health (Oct 2021)

Power outage mediates the associations between major storms and hospital admission of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • Yanji Qu,
  • Wangjian Zhang,
  • Bo Ye,
  • Samantha Penta,
  • Guanghui Dong,
  • Xiaoqing Liu,
  • Shao Lin

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21, no. 1
pp. 1 – 9


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Abstract Background Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third-leading cause of death worldwide with continuous rise. Limited studies indicate that COPD was associated with major storms and related power outages (PO). However, significant gaps remain in understanding what PO’s role is on the pathway of major storms-COPD. This study aimed to examine how PO mediates the major storms-COPD associations. Methods In this time-series study, we extracted all hospital admissions with COPD as the principal diagnosis in New York, 2001–2013. Using distributed lag nonlinear models, the hospitalization rate during major storms and PO was compared to non-major storms and non-PO periods to determine the risk ratios (RRs) for COPD at each of 0–6 lag days respectively after controlling for time-varying confounders and concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). We then used Granger mediation analysis for time series to assess the mediation effect of PO on the major storms-COPD associations. Results The RRs of COPD hospitalization following major storms, which mainly included flooding, thunder, hurricane, snow, ice, and wind, were 1.23 to 1.49 across lag 0–6 days. The risk was strongest at lag3 and lasted significantly for 4 days. Compared with non-outage periods, the PO period was associated with 1.23 to 1.61 higher risk of COPD admissions across lag 0–6 days. The risk lasted significantly for 2 days and was strongest at lag2. Snow, hurricane and wind were the top three contributors of PO among the major storms. PO mediated as much as 49.6 to 65.0% of the major storms-COPD associations. Conclusions Both major storms and PO were associated with increased hospital admission of COPD. PO mediated almost half of the major storms-COPD hospitalization associations. Preparation of surrogate electric system before major storms is essential to reduce major storms-COPD hospitalization.