An Infection Reduction Strategy Worth Hearing About
The Harvard University School of Medicine has determined that air pollution and childhood ear infections are very highly correlated. The argument was presented in a paper titled Air Quality Improvements and the Prevalence of Frequent Ear Infections in Children (Bhattacharyya et. al), which was published in the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. Data comes from 126,060 children with an average age of nine analyzed over a ten year period. Researchers compared rates of otitis media (three or more ear infections in a calendar year) to particulate matter data (PM 2.5 and PM 10) from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Otitis media occurs in the middle ear. Children under the age of two are the most susceptible to it. Typically it is contracted after a cold or other respiratory illness. The cause can be viral or bacterial. It is believed that particulate matter can serve as a substrate for either species of microflora.
The gender distribution was about 50% male to 50% female to rule out any potential physiological sources of error. Twelve month prevalence data for otitis media was collected each year from 1997 to 2006. The incidence rate at the beginning of the data collection was annualized to be 6.6%. That translates into 8,320 cases of otitis media. Over the duration of the study, air quality improved (as indicated by EPA data). Rates of otitis media began to fall in tandem (regression coefficient of .07). The researchers considered this to be significant, and a validation of the Clean Air Act passed in 1990. Funding for this research was provided by the National Institute of Health to determine this. Otitis media costs the US health care system between $3 and $5 billion each year, and it was believed that stricter air quality regulations would create health care savings. It seems this hypothesis was validated.
Bhattacharyya et.al relied upon outdoor particulate matter measurements . However, the conclusions arrived at in this study are extremely relevant for Airocide. In the subsequent twenty years to the start of data collection, human life patterns have changed significantly. The same US EPA now estimates that (in 2017) people spend 90% of their time indoors. While this is objectively regrettable for a number of reasons, it shifts concern about the correlation of otitis media to particulate matter to indoor air pollution levels. The US EPA says indoor air quality is as much as ten times worse than outdoor air quality.
Another study conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia provided some interesting insight into this hypothesis. Otitis media incidence and risk factors in a population-based birth cohort (MacIntyre et.al) was published in the journal Epidemiology in 2010. This study took into consideration several indoor sources of particulate matter. Wood stoves have regained popularity in some parts of North America as a means to heat indoor spaces. The study examined exposure to wood smoke, and concluded that children in these homes were 32% more likely to contract Otitis media.
Clearly there is causal relationship between particulate matter and Otitis Media. Certainly more work needs to be done on the reduction side with regard to indoor sources. However, there is sufficient evidence here to suggest that the Airocide APS-200PM 2.5 could lessen the impact of indoor sources on the middle ear of young children. In the study Effect of the Airocide APS-200PM 2.5 Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) Unit on PM 2.5 (Robertson et.al) it was determined that the Airocide APS-200 PM 2.5 unit reduced measured PM 2.5 levels by as much as 62.3% in twenty four hours. Causal reductions in Otitis media incidence rates could lead to better outcomes in ear health, as well as reduced expenditures to control infections.