BACKGROUND: There is accumulating evidence from various countries, including the UK, that ground level ozone concentrations are associated with increased daily hospital admissions for respiratory diseases. This paper estimates the impact of ozone episodes on daily hospital admissions for respiratory disease in Great Britain by combining locally based exposure-response relationships with mapped estimates of ozone exposure for the population in the summers of 1993 and 1995. METHODS: For the given years the available ozone measurements were used to construct maps of ozone concentrations for each day. The population exposed to a given concentration of ozone on a particular day was calculated from census data using a geographical information system. The additional hospital admissions for respiratory disease were then estimated using a regression coefficient for London. RESULTS: It is estimated that 0.10% (a total of 184) and 0.35% (a total of 643) of hospital admissions for respiratory disorders during the summers of 1993 and 1995, respectively, can be attributed to levels of ozone above 50 ppb (the recommended air quality standard for the UK). A sensitivity analysis for 1995 found that, if no threshold is assumed, the estimate is increased by about twenty fold (6% of admissions attributable). CONCLUSIONS: The additional hospital admissions for respiratory disease attributable to ozone are very small in both absolute and relative terms if a threshold of 50 ppb is assumed, but this estimate is very sensitive to threshold assumptions.
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